Tapper falsely suggested Bill Clinton proposed "slow[ing] down our economy" to fight climate change

››› ››› BRIAN FREDERICK

In a blog post, ABC News' Jake Tapper wrote: "In a long, and interesting speech, [Bill Clinton] characterized what the U.S. and other industrialized nations need to do to combat global warming this way: 'We just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions 'cause we have to save the planet for our grandchildren.' " But Clinton did not say that is what has to be done to combat global warming.

In a January 31 post on his ABCNews.com blog, Political Punch, ABC News senior national correspondent Jake Tapper falsely suggested that former President Bill Clinton, during a speech in Denver the previous day, advocated "slow[ing] down our economy" as a strategy to combat climate change. In the post -- titled "Bill: 'We Just Have to Slow Down Our Economy' to Fight Global Warming" -- Tapper wrote of Clinton: "In a long, and interesting speech, he characterized what the U.S. and other industrialized nations need to do to combat global warming this way: 'We just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions 'cause we have to save the planet for our grandchildren.' " Tapper then wrote: "At a time that the nation is worried about a recession is that really the characterization his wife would want him making? 'Slow down our economy'?"

In fact -- as also noted by the blog, Sadly, No! -- Clinton's full remarks on global warming during the speech, which Tapper included toward the end of his post, make clear that Clinton did not propose "slow[ing] down our economy" as a strategy "to combat global warming." He said that "rich" countries could take that approach; but then he said why he thought it wouldn't work, asserting that the "only way" to fight global warming is to prove that doing so "is good economics that we will create more jobs to build a sustainable economy":

CLINTON: And maybe America, and Europe, and Japan, and Canada -- the rich counties [sic] -- would say, "OK, we just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions 'cause we have to save the planet for our grandchildren." We could do that.

But if we did that, you know as well as I do, China and India and Indonesia and Vietnam and Mexico and Brazil and the Ukraine, and all the other countries will never agree to stay poor to save the planet for our grandchildren. The only way we can do this is if we get back in the world's fight against global warming and prove it is good economics that we will create more jobs to build a sustainable economy that saves the planet for our children and grandchildren. It is the only way it will work.

The Drudge Report linked to Tapper's post under the similarly misleading headline, "Bill Clinton: 'We Just Have to Slow Down Our Economy' to Fight Global Warming ..."

Drudge Report

The conservative website WorldNet Daily also linked to Tapper's post under the headline "Bill Clinton urges slowing economy to fight 'warming'":

Worldnet

The Republican National Committee further mischaracterized Bill Clinton's comments. In an "Update" to his post, Tapper quoted the following statement from spokesman Alex Conant: "Senator [Hillary Rodham] Clinton's campaign now says we must 'slow down the economy' to stop global warming. ... Clinton needs to come back to Earth. Her 'tax-it, spend-it, regulate-it' attitude would really bring the economy crashing down. No amount of special effects will hide Clinton's liberal record."

Sen. Clinton's (D-NY) presidential campaign responded to Tapper's post by writing that Tapper "parsed President Clinton's speech," adding, "Actually the full quote shows that President Clinton was making the opposite point. He rejected slowing down the economy, and advocated for sustainable economic growth." Tapper responded to the campaign in a separate blog post, but did not address the substantive point:

The Clinton campaign did not provide for me, as requested, an explanation of what he meant.

Instead, the response from the Clinton campaign is to post an item on its "fact" hub and accuse me of "parsing."

I will plead guilty to "parsing" -- the dictionary definition of the word -- "To examine closely or subject to detailed analysis, especially by breaking up into components" or "To make sense of; comprehend."

But I suspect the Clinton campaign thinks of the word "parsing" in its more colloquial sense -- as in "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is." I guess I should defer to their expertise.

After Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow Iain Murray -- in a January 31 post on National Review Online's "The Corner" -- asserted in part that "Tapper isn't entirely accurate in characterizing what Bill said," Tapper added the following update to his post responding to the Clinton campaign:

UPDATE: Bill Clinton finds a defender/explainer over at the National Review, where Iain Murray takes a look at what an effort to reduce greenhouse gases would do to the U.S. economy and concludes that "while Tapper isn't entirely accurate in characterizing what Bill said, he's pretty accurate in summarizing the effects of the policies he recommends. Bill Clinton's economic stimulus plan is to slow down our economy."

This is the much more important issue here. Any serious effort to reduce greenhouses gases will have an impact on the economy and, initially, that impact could be negative.

There are ways to work towards having the impact in the long-term be neutral or perhaps even positive. But any serious effort will cost a lot of money and slow the economy, whether the world is in it together or the U.S. and industrialized nations go it alone. (I stand accused of saying that former President Clinton spoke honestly about that.)

That's not to say it should not be done -- it's just to acknowledge that, as with all things ambitious, there will be a cost.

From Tapper's January 31 Political Punch post, "Bill: 'We Just Have to Slow Down Our Economy' to Fight Global Warming":

Former President Bill Clinton was in Denver, Colorado, stumping for his wife yesterday.

In a long, and interesting speech, he characterized what the U.S. and other industrialized nations need to do to combat global warming this way: "We just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions 'cause we have to save the planet for our grandchildren."

At a time that the nation is worried about a recession is that really the characterization his wife would want him making? "Slow down our economy"?

I don't really think there's much debate that, at least initially, a full commitment to reduce greenhouse gases would slow down the economy. ... So was this a moment of candor?

He went on to say that ... the U.S. -- and those countries that have committed to reducing greenhouse gases -- could ultimately increase jobs and raise wages with a good energy plan..

So there was something of a contradiction there.

Or perhaps he mis-spoke.

Or perhaps this characterization was a description of what would happen if there isn't a worldwide effort. ... I'm not quite certain.

You can watch that one clip HERE or you can watch the whole speech at the website of ABC News' great Denver affiliate KMGH by clicking HERE.

It's worth watching -- he also pushed back against a 9/11 conspiracy theorist heckling him.

"Everybody knows that global warming is real," Mr. Clinton said, giving a shout-out to Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize, "but we cannot solve it alone."

"And maybe America, and Europe, and Japan, and Canada -- the rich counties [sic] -- would say, 'OK, we just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions 'cause we have to save the planet for our grandchildren.' We could do that.

"But if we did that, you know as well as I do, China and India and Indonesia and Vietnam and Mexico and Brazil and the Ukraine, and all the other countries will never agree to stay poor to save the planet for our grandchildren. The only way we can do this is if we get back in the world's fight against global warming and prove it is good economics that we will create more jobs to build a sustainable economy that saves the planet for our children and grandchildren. It is the only way it will work.

"And guess what? The only places in the world today in rich countries where you have rising wages and declining inequality are places that have generated more jobs than rich countries because they made a commitment we didn't. They got serious about a clean, efficient, green, independent energy future... If you want that in America, if you want the millions of jobs that will come from it, if you would like to see a new energy trust fund to finance solar energy and wind energy and biomass and responsible bio-fuels and electric hybrid plug-in vehicles that will soon get 100 miles a gallon, if you want every facility in this country to be made maximally energy efficient that will create millions and millions and millions of jobs, vote for her. She'll give it to you. She's got the right energy plan."

In other Bubba News, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, told the spectacular Kate Snow yesterday that this is her campaign, not Bill's, and told Nightline anchor Cynthia McFadden last night that she can control him.

(Which begs the question -- does she want to slow down the economy?)

[...]

UPDATE: Not so difficult to predict -- the RNC just issued a statement in response to the former President's comment.

"Senator Clinton's campaign now says we must 'slow down the economy' to stop global warming," said Alex Conant, RNC Spokesman. "Clinton needs to come back to Earth. Her 'tax-it, spend-it, regulate-it' attitude would really bring the economy crashing down. No amount of special effects will hide Clinton's liberal record."

Sen. Clinton's campaign, meanwhile, has a new TV ad (watch it HERE) that calls her "the person you can depend on to fix the economy and protect our future."

From Tapper's later post, "Being Accused of 'Parsing' By the Clinton Campaign":

Wow, I hardly know how to take this.

This morning, trying to understand what former President Bill Clinton was driving at when he made a statement about effort to combat global warming, I posted a quote of his, put it in context, provided video links, and asked what he meant.

The Clinton campaign did not provide for me, as requested, an explanation of what he meant.

Instead, the response from the Clinton campaign is to post an item on its "fact" hub and accuse me of "parsing."

I will plead guilty to "parsing" -- the dictionary definition of the word -- "To examine closely or subject to detailed analysis, especially by breaking up into components" or "To make sense of; comprehend."

But I suspect the Clinton campaign thinks of the word "parsing" in its more colloquial sense -- as in "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is."

I guess I should defer to their expertise.

Apologies for taking a confusing public comment from a former president about a major world issue and trying to make sense of it.

[...]

UPDATE: Bill Clinton finds a defender/explainer over at the National Review, where Iain Murray takes a look at what an effort to reduce greenhouse gases would do to the U.S. economy and concludes that "while Tapper isn't entirely accurate in characterizing what Bill said, he's pretty accurate in summarizing the effects of the policies he recommends. Bill Clinton's economic stimulus plan is to slow down our economy."

This is the much more important issue here. Any serious effort to reduce greenhouses gases will have an impact on the economy and, initially, that impact could be negative.

There are ways to work towards having the impact in the long-term be neutral or perhaps even positive. But any serious effort will cost a lot of money and slow the economy, whether the world is in it together or the U.S. and industrialized nations go it alone. (I stand accused of saying that former President Clinton spoke honestly about that.)

That's not to say it should not be done -- it's just to acknowledge that, as with all things ambitious, there will be a cost.

Posted In
Economy, Environment & Science, Climate Change
Network/Outlet
The Drudge Report, ABCNews.com
Person
Jake Tapper
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