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'Cap and Trade'? More Like 'Tax and Spend'

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'Cap and trade'? More like 'tax and spend'

Star Tribune,

From its name, cap-and-trade legislation sounds harmless enough. Unfortunately, cap-and-trade would be more aptly called "tax and trade" or "tax and spend" and it is far from harmless, posing a serious threat to our economy and our personal freedoms.

A parliamentary maneuver was used on Friday to kill debate in the Senate, but this is only the beginning. With many national leaders, influential lobbyists and powerful special-interest groups pushing hard for a cap-and-trade bill, there is no doubt that this is going to be a hot debate in the months to come as well.

The bill in question is called America's Climate Security Act. However, like the subject of this bill, global warming, the legislation has been the subject of considerable hype and little hard-nosed analysis.

In this case, the federal government would impose arbitrary limits on six emission gases, with the primary emphasis on carbon dioxide. In order to prevent or "cap" these emissions, the government would sell permits to power plants, refineries, and natural gas producers, among others. To offset losses, the costs of the permits will be passed along in the form of increased energy costs to consumers (much like an energy tax).

As if costs weren't high enough already, now American businesses and users of energy -- nearly everyone -- would have to pay more for the right to use energy. One of the bill's main advocates, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., estimates the cost of these permits at $6.7 trillion by 2050. The federal government is estimated to directly receive $3.32 trillion, with $3.42 trillion in permits sold by other parties. American consumers will still pay the full $6.7 trillion tab.

Government, naturally, already has plans to spend this kitty, such as $342 billion for international aid, $288 billion for "wildlife adaptation," and the list goes on.

Not only will Minnesotans pay more; they'll also suffer a loss of jobs and income. According to the non-partisan Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis Report on the cap-and-trade bill, Minnesota would lead the nation in per-capita job loss should this legislation become law.

The U.S. EPA predicts the already hard-hit manufacturing sector of our economy would lose millions more jobs. Household energy costs would rise dramatically, and household income would decline.

And what would we get in return? There is little evidence that the damage this bill would do to the economy would be offset by a lowering in the Earth's temperature, its purported purpose. We'd sacrifice so much, yet receive virtually nothing in return when it comes to global warming.

While this bill does attempt to lower the amount of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases emitted by the United States, it does nothing to reduce emissions from other industrialized nations. China has already surpassed the United States as the world's largest emitter, and it would be able to continue freely. The United States could give itself a pat on the back, but at what cost? Our economy will be crushed and China's and the world's will continue to grow at an astonishing rate.

Three years ago, Europe adopted a cap-and-trade program, and since then, carbon emissions have actually risen by several percentage points. That is not a good sign of things to come for the United States.

The "tax and trade" bill amounts to unilateral economic disarmament. Our economy is right now suffering from a loss of consumer confidence, sky-rocketing gas prices, a sluggish dollar, and rising costs of living. "Tax and trade" is the last thing we need.

There is no coherent reason to have to choose between economic growth and environmental protection. It's a false notion that we must conserve our way out of our energy crisis, or pillage the environment. We can grow our economy, improve our energy security and pass on a clean natural heritage to our children. We must reject impoverishing the American people while the economies of other nations grow.


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