Via Dave Weigel and Matt Yglesias comes the depressing news that the vast majority of the public doesn't know what cap and trade" is. And I don't mean in the sense that they don't understand the auctions. They have no idea what problem the policy actually refers to. "Given a choice of three options, just 24 percent of voters can correctly identify the cap-and-trade proposal as something that deals with environmental issues. A slightly higher number (29 percent) believe the proposal has something to do with regulating Wall Street while 17 percent think the term applies to health care reform. A plurality (30 percent) have no idea." Matt made a graph:
The struggle to define this policy, in other words, is ongoing. Republicans have been referring to it as the "energy tax." Al Gore's group has been trying out "the carbon pollution loophole." But the thing you can probably say is that it's not going to pass all that quickly. It's fairly hard for Congress to manage large action on issues that it actually knows a fair amount about. But though more than 24 percent of congressmen could tell you that "cap and trade" refers to environmental policy, I guarantee you that fewer than 24 percent of congressmen could give you a coherent explanation of how cap and trade works. There's a lot of background education -- both for elites and for the public -- that still needs to happen here.