Thriller

As the national media fixates on the death of Michael Jackson, the House of Representatives is working on its own “Thriller.” (I stole that line from Antonia Ferrier of the minority leader’s office.) They are trying desperately to pass the so-called cap-and-trade climate change bill that is encountering fierce resistance from centrist Democrats and most Republicans.

The cap-and-trade bill will dramatically increase the rates the average family pays for their energy use, and will hurt our competitive position vis-à-vis the Chinese in the world of manufacturing. Since the Chinese are already kicking our butts when it comes to the manufacturing sector, you might wonder why we are going down this road to ruin.

The answer is hubris. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has wrapped up her reputation on winning this vote, and she is going to twist arms to pass it out of the House, no matter how dead it may be in the Senate.

This brings back memories of the famous Btu tax of 1993, when House Democrats passed a controversial tax on a measurable use of energy (called the British thermal unit), only to see it die in the Senate. That vote was used by Republicans to beat the tar out of the moderate Democrats, and it was one of the building blocks of the takeover of 1994.

Timing is everything in politics, and the time to pass a new energy tax that will hurt job creation is not when unemployment is hitting 10 percent. People care about the environment, but they care more about taking care of their families in an economic downturn. But that hasn’t stopped Madam Speaker from taking out her whip and lashing reluctant Democrats into submission on a vote that they know will hurt them in a year and a half.

Republicans want to “Beat It” (sorry, I couldn’t resist) with a far simpler plan that will dramatically reduce emissions and create manufacturing jobs here in America. They want to build 100 nuclear generators around the country. Nuclear power is the future. It burns much cleaner, it creates no emissions, and it is safe. To build that many power plants will require hundred of thousands of highly skilled construction workers, engineers and other workers, which, of course, will be a shot in the arm to the economy. And building that many nuclear power plants is the surest way to make America more energy-self-sufficient.

In the meantime, the Democrats are in disarray. I am hearing that the U.S. trade representative ambassador has made a plea to the Speaker to tone down the protectionist language in the bill, because it will be noncompliant with the WTO should it ever become law. Of course, the reason that language is in the bill is because of the gnawing fear that should this ever become law, it would be the final nail in the coffin of America’s manufacturing sector. And Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), the Agriculture Committee chairman, said that he has no idea how it would ever work if it did pass the Senate.

But there should be no worry about that. This bill will die in the Senate.


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