John Kasich on Green New Deal: US needs 'free-market' solution to climate change

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Former Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich doubled down on his calls for a bipartisan, free-market solution to climate change on Monday, days after he touted his ownership of a Tesla electric vehicle and outlined his views on the divisive issue during an appearance at the South by Southwest.

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Kasich, who is mulling a presidential run in 2020, said the “Green New Deal” championed by progressive Democrats such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., is “provoking a more vigorous level of public debate” on climate change, but could “dangerously centralize federal government power.” Instead, he called for moderates on both sides of the aisle to embrace market-driven policies to combat climate change, such as a carbon emissions tax and the return of subsidies for electric vehicles.

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“I am convinced that conservatives and moderates, including many Democrats, can agree on a commonsense set of policies,” Kasich wrote in an op-ed for USA Today. “They would be based on responsible economic principles of free-market capitalism and personal choice, not coercion.”

Kasich proposed the possibility of a “cap-and-trade” program that would place a limit on emissions, but allow companies to purchase emissions capacity from other firms that haven’t hit the upper benchmark. He also called on U.S. officials to attempt to rein in carbon emissions from India and China, the world’s two most populous countries.

The former Ohio governor spoke at length about climate change during an event at Austin City Limits’ Moody Theater for South By Southwest, the annual tech conference in Austin, Texas. Kasich disclosed that he drives a Tesla and said it was “ridiculous” that the U.S. government is curbing tax incentives for customers who buy electric vehicles.

Kasich also aimed some criticism at President Trump’s administration during the event, arguing that it was “boneheaded” for the United States to opt out of the Paris Climate Agreement, a sweeping international accord to limit emissions.

“If we’re not at the table, how are we supposed to seize the higher moral ground?” Kasich said.

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Kasich said he hasn’t reached a decision on whether to run for president again in 2020, noting that the deadline is “not here yet.”

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