That’s Jason Grumet, energy policy advisor to Barack Obama, responding to the Wall Street Journal’s Alan Murray at a Presidential campaign panel discussion at the ECO:nomics conference. Here’s a slightly fuller version from Gristmill:
Inevitably, one of Alan Murray’s questions was, isn’t cap-and-trade just a tax? Grumet started to explain, but Murray interrupted to push the point. “It raises energy prices. That’s a tax, right?” Finally, Grumet said acidly, “Look, do you want Lord of the Flies, or do you want a government?” There was applause. Grumet went on to say that if this is in fact a species-threatening crisis, then yeah, we might have to ask people to pay 30 cents extra a gallon.
This might be a loser as a campaign strategy, but I hope Obama will start framing the issue more this way if he gets elected. Someone in power has to start being forthright about the real choices we face, instead of repeating the same safe, bland rhetoric about investing in alternative energy and “green jobs” and so on. Since Republicans will continue to use the two “T”s — terrorism and taxes — as scare tactics against Democratic candidates, some “Lord of the Flies” scare tactics in response seem more than fair (and obviously Grumet’s line answers many anti-government arguments, not just anti-cap-and-trade arguments).