By Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) - 07/21/09 03:49 PM EDT
So what are the Democrats who control Washington doing to create new jobs? They’re barreling ahead with a national energy tax, known as “cap-and-trade,” which will raise taxes on the middle class, small businesses and family farms, ship millions of jobs overseas, and stifle future growth by limiting American energy production. The majority’s response to the rising unemployment rate has been typical — and reminds me of what President Reagan once quipped about liberal Democrats’ view of the economy: “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”
First, it would dramatically raise electricity prices, particularly in rural America. But don’t take my word for it. The president has admitted as much, telling the San Francisco Chronicle that “under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” In my home state of Ohio, which has thousands of farmers in rural areas, more than 85 percent of our energy comes from coal. Because carbon emissions would face penalties under “cap-and-trade,” energy prices would rise substantially.
Second, it would stifle economic growth and ship millions of jobs overseas to countries like China and India that refuse to impose the same type of tax on their economy. In fact, according to a National Black Chamber of Commerce study, Speaker Pelosi’s national energy tax would cost 2.5 million American jobs. Some of those people happen to reside in my district, where AK Steel is headquartered. The cost of their steel will increase 30 to 40 percent if this bill becomes law. At a time when we’re trying to help the American automobile industry get back on its feet, the last thing we should be asking them to do is pay 30 or 40 percent more for their steel.
Finally, Speaker Pelosi’s national energy tax would create a slew of new government programs to take and redistribute trillions of dollars from families, small businesses and family farmers in the form of allowances — all overseen by a confusing web of government agencies that will ultimately answer to the Environmental Protection Agency. The bill even includes a series of new mandates that would affect every house in built in America. It’s nuts.
Republicans believe there is a better way. Our American Energy Act is the fastest route to a cleaner, more reliable energy future. By increasing environmentally safe energy production, promoting alternatives like nuclear and clean-coal technologies, and encouraging increased efficiency, this alternative will create more jobs, lower energy costs, and clean up our air and water.
Unfortunately, House Democrats ignored this commonsense approach. Instead, they dropped a 300-plus-page amendment to their already lengthy 1,200-page national energy tax at 3:09 a.m. on the day the House was slated to vote on the bill. That night, I went to the House floor and spent an hour raising serious questions about the bill — questions that no one in the House could answer since not a single member of Congress actually read it before voting.
We’ve seen this before. Earlier this year, Democrats’ rushed through their 1,100 page “stimulus” bill, giving members of Congress and the American people less than 12 hours to read the legislation before the House voted on it. We later found out that, thanks to the “stimulus” legislation, $1 million is going to Rep. John Murtha’s (D-Pa.) “Airport for No One,” AIG executives received millions in bonuses, nearly $1 million is going to fix up a bridge to a bar in Appropriations Chairman Dave Obey’s (D-Wis.) district, and $16 million was spent to protect the San Francisco salt marsh harvest mouse.
Now, Democratic leaders are gearing up to pass a government-run health plan and a massive small business tax with the same level of openness and transparency, or lack thereof.
It doesn’t have to be this way. One solution would be to adopt a mandatory 72-hour public review period for all major spending bills. The idea is simple: Give the American people and their representatives the opportunity to actually see what is being voted on. This approach can and should be applied to healthcare legislation as well. LetFreedomRingUSA.org, a non-partisan group, has a pledge that calls on members of Congress to promise they will not vote to enact a healthcare bill they have not read or which has not been posted online for at least 72 hours before Congress votes on it. I’ve signed on, and I hope other members will as well.
The American people deserve better. The government should be supporting economic growth and job creation, not stifling it with a new national energy tax. We need policies that help small businesses, the engine of our nation’s economy, weather the storm and get back to creating jobs — and new taxes, higher energy prices and more mandates from Washington aren’t the answer.
Boehner is the House Republican leader.