Why don’t some Utah Republicans have faith in the market to solve our problems, George Pyle asks

While Romney pushes private sector answers, Reyes demands businesses stick in the past.

(Tim Vandenack | Standard-Examiner) Numerous leaders assist with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, April 20, 2022, for a new Thermo Fisher Scientific facility in Ogden. Pictured, from left, are Utah Sen. John Johnson, Ogden City Council members Angela Choberka and Ken Richey, U.S. Rep. Blake Moore, Ogden City Councilperson Luis Lopez, Thermo Fisher executive Chad Dale, U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, Thermo Fisher executive Paul Parker, U.S. Sen. Mike Lee and Thermo Fisher executive Mitch Kennedy.

You know you haven’t had enough of Utah Republicans fighting one another for a seat in the U.S. Senate.

The three-way Republican primary, undercard to the Mike Lee vs Evan McMullen contest this year, with all those nasty TV ads and fund-raising emails, just whetted your appetite for another round of “Quien es Mas Macho.”

Not to worry. The Great Mentioner has already set the table for the next big R vs R rumble. Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, we hear, is setting his cap to challenge Sen. Mitt Romney in 2024. (Assuming the 75-year-old Romney runs for reelection to the Senate rather than offering himself as a younger alternative to Joe Biden in another try for the White House.)

Like this year’s race, Romney vs Reyes would be an indicator of whether the Republican Party is still something like the alliance of business-friendly cosmopolitans it was going back to Dwight Eisenhower, or has unalterably become the hive of xenophobic fascists that continues to model itself after Donald Trump.

Romney, after all, voted to convict and remove Trump both times he was impeached by the House of Representatives. He continues to try to push Trump aside and help the Republican Party regain some shred of decency.

Reyes, on the other hand, has repeatedly gone to the mat in support of the Big Lie.

He has questioned election results with no evidence, and recently made himself into a bargain basement Jared Kushner. Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and special assistant, left the White House and immediately found himself bathed in $2 billion in Saudi money. All Reyes got was a mostly free whirlwind trip to Qatar for a World Cup match.

There is another big difference between the wing of the Republican Party represented by Romney and the one in which Reyes finds himself comfortable. Romney, like Republicans of old, still believes in the power of the free market to solve our problems. Reyes runs to a government agency when he thinks a private business is making a bad decision.

As reported in The Salt Lake Tribune just the other day, Reyes is one of 13 Republican state attorneys general who want a federal agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, to look over the shoulder of one of the nation’s major investment firms because the AGs don’t like the way Vanguard Group is investing its money.

Apparently Reyes and company think the feds need to stop Vanguard from deciding which, if any, energy companies to invest in. That’s because Vanguard, to hear Reyes tell it, is controlled by woke hippies who might want to steer the corporations they buy stock in away from fossil fuels and toward renewable sources of energy.

It does not seem to have entered Reyes’ mind that Vanguard, like any big investor, really has only one goal, and that’s to make money on its investments.

It makes perfect sense for a Wall Street fund or bank to decide that electric utilities, auto companies, oil producers, etc., etc., would be better investments if they blazed a trail away from dirty, finite sources of energy and got themselves in on the ground floor of the next wave of business innovation.

It is pure capitalism for Vanguard or BlackRock or Scrooge and Marley to decide to put money into electric cars, hydrogen power, batteries, wind and solar and other stuff that hasn’t been thought of yet.

Reyes’ objections to Vanguard’s investment practices, like State Treasurer Marlo Oaks whining about BlackRock’s and S&P’s consideration of environmental and social factors in managing their investments, make as much sense as Rutherford B. Hayes blocking Thomas Edison or William Howard Taft trying to push aside Henry Ford, putting the government’s weight behind companies that made horseshoes and sold whale oil.

Romney, for some time now, has acknowledged the reality and the risks of climate change. But he, like a good old Republican, promotes the free market as a way to solve the problem.

His vision is for American companies to take the lead (with, yes, a little government sugar in the mix) in inventing everything from long-lasting storage systems to methods of carbon capture. The idea is not only to de-carbonize the environment, but also for American industry to sell world-changing technologies around the globe, doing well by doing good.

Romney thinks American industry is up to that challenge.

Reyes doesn’t. He wants government intervention to protect 20th century industry from 21st century needs.

So much for Republicans being the party of the Free Market.

George Pyle, reading The New York Times at The Rose Establishment.

George Pyle, opinion editor of The Salt Lake Tribune, threw away all of his VHS tapes over the summer and is now wondering what to do with all those DVDs. Enough innovation already.


Twitter, @debatestate