Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Democrats ram largest-ever tax bill through House

The House of Representatives passed the 1,200-plus page Waxman-Markey Cap-and-Trade tax bill by a narrow margin as the last piece of business on Friday before heading home for the Fourth of July recess. Once again House members had to vote on a bill they hadn’t read, since co-sponsor Henry Waxman (D-CA) added a 300-page amendment just after 3 o’clock Friday morning.

Fearing the vote on the controversial American Clean Energy and Security Act – the largest tax increase in American history – would not go their way, Democrats called one lawmaker in from rehab to help out. According to The Hill, “In a clear sign that Democrats need every vote they can get on climate change legislation, Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) has returned from medical treatment for alcoholism to vote on the bill. Kennedy, who has missed every vote since going into rehab on June 12, was seen on the House floor talking to his Democratic colleagues.”

Among the 219 “Aye” votes were Mr. Kennedy and eight Republicans, all of whom did a disservice to their constituents. Among the 212 “No” votes were 44 Democrats who deserve recognition for seeing this measure as the disaster-in-waiting that it is.

With the final margin a very thin seven votes, the eight Republicans essentially passed the bill that The Heritage Foundation called “nothing more than an energy tax in disguise” that will raise the cost of electricity.

Even President Barack Obama acknowledges that the $65 billion tax will cause electricity costs to rise: “Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket,” the President told the San Francisco Chronicle in January. Electric utilities, he said, “will have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will have to pass that money on to consumers.”

In addition to electricity costs cap-and trade will also increase the cost of everything that electricity and fossil fuels are used for, and those higher costs will produce job losses, an increase in the federal debt, and a weaker economy. “The reality is when all the tax impacts have been added up, the average per-family-of-four costs rise by $2,979 per year,” Heritage estimates. “In the year 2035 alone, the cost is $4,609. And the costs per family for the whole energy tax aggregated from 2012 to 2035 are $71,493.”

Democrats counter that according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Waxman-Markey would cost the average household only $175 a year by 2020. But critics point out that the CBO analysis looked only at the day-to-day costs of the program, and not at the entire set of economic consequences of energy restriction. A CBO footnote acknowledges as much: "The resource cost does not indicate the potential decrease in gross domestic product (GDP) that could result from the cap.”

Prior to the vote Friday, Michigan Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter told the House that “passing this abominable energy tax on working families in a recession shows this job-killing, budget-busting government doesn’t understand how much real Americans are hurting for work. This is the hubris of big government: the delusion that our families’ economic future rests in the manicured hands of Congress rather than in the hard-working hands of the American people. I disagree and I urge the rejection of this bill.”

Undaunted by the dire predictions of analysts, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) blundered forward with the vote, and won, if you can call heaping monumental additional costs on your constituents and other Americans “winning.” Some Democrats aren’t happy about this bill and even environmental groups are opposed to it because, despite all of the additional costs and other harm the amended version will heap on Americans, organizations like Greenpeace believe the form of the bill that was passed is too weak.

The good news is that the bill will have a much harder time in the Senate, and may not even be brought up for a vote.

Cap-and-trade is a scheme to push the U.S. toward “green,” renewable energy despite compelling evidence against mankind contributing significantly to global warming, or global cooling, whichever it is this week. As time passes, the manmade climate change theory is increasingly out of favor with both scientists and regular Americans.

Hardly anyone supports continuing to pour pollutants into the air when there are clean alternatives. The problem is that green alternatives are not viable alternatives; wind, solar and the other clean technologies aren’t well enough developed yet to replace coal, oil and natural gas as major energy sources, and they are more expensive than conventional energy. Trying to force their development by making conventional energy so expensive that no one can afford it is cruel, and trying to put green energy in place before it is ready is foolish.

July 4th is a few days away. There is no better time to look at over-reaching government efforts like cap-and-trade and healthcare reform and consider them in the context of why we celebrate the 4th of July. Everyone who understands the fundamental concepts of freedom that are behind the Declaration of Independence will reject both ideas.

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