Mr. AKIN. Good evening, Mr. Speaker. It's a pleasure to join you and to take a look at a very interesting topic today. The whole idea of, it's kind of a combination of thoughts, first of all, the idea of global warming, and then how that relates to this cap-and-tax bill that we've been hearing more about, and exactly what's behind all of this discussion, because what we have here is something that is, if you want to talk about change, there's a whole lot of change here.
This is a very, very significant proposal that's being made in terms of the size of the tax that's involved, and the proposal that we're actually going to change the climate of the world by some of these different things that are going to be done by the government, a very interesting thought.
And so I thought, when we talk about global warming, there's a little bit of the story that I think has been forgotten. Some of it, not surprisingly, is the history of what's going on. I'd like to go back just a little bit in what's been going on.
Let's go back to the year 1920, when newspapers in the 1920s were filled with scientists' warnings of a fast approaching glacial age. The Earth was going to get cold. And so you had to really be stocking up on extra coal and overcoats and things in the 1920s.
In the 1930s it seems that the scientists changed their opinion, and they reversed themselves, that there was going to be serious global warming in the 1930s.
By 1972, Time magazine was citing numerous scientific reports of imminent runaway glaciation. So it's going to get cold again.
In 1975, Newsweek reported that the scientific evidence of an ``Ice Age'' called to stockpile food. And we also were even engaged in discussions about melting some of the Arctic ice cap or something because of this Ice Age that was readily, eminently approaching.
By 1976 the U.S. government said the Earth is heading into some sort of mini ice age. And now we have back again, global warming. In fact, global warming is even getting a little bit out of fashion now, and people want to talk about climate change. It's a little safer to talk about climate change because you're not predicting whether it's going to get colder or warmer. But anyway, we've had some considerable amounts of disagreement, depending on what year you're on. So we go back and forth. It's either going to be the sky is going to fall because it's going to freeze, or the sky is falling because it's going to get warmer.
So we have today this whole subject of global warming. That's what the most common term that you hear nowadays is global warming. And I think the facts of the matter are that there has been a considerable amount of disagreement, depending on which decade you're living in.
I'm joined this evening by some very good friends, some respected colleagues, a medical doctor, as a matter of fact, and another gentleman from Pennsylvania, a very big coal and energy producing state. We're going to be chatting with them in just a minute.
But I thought it would be appropriate just to kind of lay down, first of all, historically some of the differences of opinion, depending on which decade you live in.
The general theory today, the way it works is the idea that mankind is creating CO2. We do that when we breathe, so there's not much scientific argument about that. There are other ways that CO2 is produced as well. Whenever we make a campfire we produce a certain amount of CO2 as we burn some combustible with the oxygen in the air.
And the theory is that this CO2, because we're burning so much in the way of hydrocarbons, now is actually affecting the environment. And so we're going to take a look at that.
And the question is whether or not, really, this CO2 is affecting the environment. I think most scientists agree that when we create or when we produce CO2 it has some impact on the environment. The question is how much. And then it's also a big question as to whether or not there's anything we could really do about that in a practical sense, or are there any sort of cost-effective solutions. And of course there is a solution that's on the table that's being proposed. It's a cap-and-tax bill that's being proposed by the Democrats. And it follows the pattern of most Democrat bills, and that is, I've got a great big whopping tax increase, and it has a whole lot of government regulations.
If we go back in history a little bit, history is an amusing thing to take a look at. One of the things that history tells us is how effective the U.S. government is in solving these kinds of problems.
We created a thing called the U.S. Department of Energy. Maybe a lot of people know we have a U.S. Department of Energy, but they may not recall why it was that the Department of Energy was created. Well, the fact of the matter is the Department of Energy was created so that we would not be dependent on foreign energy. And so, for years we've added more and more employees to the U.S. Department of Energy so that we won't be dependent on foreign energy, and each year we become more dependent on foreign energy. So it's amusing to postulate that we're going to solve this problem using a lot of taxation and a government solution.
I think the Republicans--I'm a Republican, my colleagues that are joining me tonight are Republicans--I think that we prefer a more free enterprise kind of solution, and we want to take a look at the premises behind what we're talking about.
I'm joined by my good friend, G.T. THOMPSON. He's from Pennsylvania. I'd like to recognize Congressman Thompson, who is already making himself a name here as being a very feet-on-the-ground, commonsense kind of guy, has an intuitive sense for free enterprise, and also potential dangers that come from this idea of we can solve all the problems with a great big whopping tax increase and government regulations.
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Mr. AKIN. Could I interrupt you just a minute because I thought you were on a rather important topic, because the whole crux of the idea for this huge tax proposal and all kinds of sweeping changes and government power and influence and regulation is based on the fact that CO2 is such a bad thing, and it's based on the assumption that the CO2 that we're releasing by burning fossil fuels is creating some kind of a problem. I mean, that's the whole linchpin that this debate is going around.
And yet you have, here's kind of an interesting quote here. And I think I'd like to get into this just a little bit. Here's a former U.S. Senator and he says, we've got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we'll be doing the right thing in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.
So, in other words, there's a solution that they have in mind, whether global warming is going on or not. And the thing that's been embarrassing, you've noticed we don't hear as much global warming. We hear climate change, and the reason is because the planet has not really been warming the last number of years as all of these economic models were saying that it was going to. And that doesn't necessarily mean the CO2 that we've generated hasn't created some warming. It just seems that the world climate is more connected to sunspot activity than these other things.
But here you're just talking about the effect of CO2, and I thought this was interesting. This is how much does the human activity affect greenhouse gases? The block in light blue here represents all the greenhouse gases, which comprise only 2 percent of the total atmosphere. So this is all the greenhouse gases.
And that yellow block over there on the end is the CO2. And the little tiny red block inside the yellow block is the part that our human activity is creating. And so the question is, in terms of leverage, does this little red dot over here have that much impact on the climate?
And this is, I don't think anybody disputes the percentages of these gases and the mixture. So the question then is, is this stuff that we're doing really that important?
And you just said the forest fires, which were created by poor environmental policy by the way, a lot of them, because we're not allowed to clean that brush out, the underbrush, and then it burns everything and burns Bambi and snowy owls and everything else because we didn't want to clear the brush out, and that's generating, what is that, 2 1/2 times more than all of the coal and oil and things we burn.
I didn't mean to interrupt you, but I think it's important for us to stick on what science, what really does science say. And this is not an easy thing for any scientist to figure out, is it, because what's happening is there's all sorts of things that play together, and so, the CO2 we generate could be warming the planet some, but it could be also that we're in a time where the planet is growing colder. So all of that, we don't really understand that totally, do we?
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Mr. AKIN. Just reclaiming my time, somehow or another, this whole thing strikes me, if it weren't so serious, as being a comedy. You know, we just went from winter to spring in Missouri. When we go from winter to spring, that's a good climate change. I don't want to stop that climate change, you know. Who in the world would want to put politicians in charge of the weather anyway? What a dumb idea. Anyhow, we need to be a little bit serious because this is a tremendous tax that we're talking about, a tremendous removal of freedom away from Americans, and it is a tremendous investment in more and more big government solutions. That is extremely scary in spite of the fact that the science seems to be a little bit amazing. We'll get into that, too.
I was just recalling that my friend from Pennsylvania was here with the guy from Spain, I think it was, 2 weeks ago. They were talking about how Spain has driven this cap-and-tax, and they were talking about what has happened, and we're going to get into it. So it isn't something we're going to speculate about. It has been tried. We can say: here is what happened in Spain. Do we really want to reproduce this or not?
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Mr. AKIN. Reclaiming my time, as for the green jobs that are being talked about, we're going to create all of these green jobs in Spain. They call them ``subprime jobs,'' you see. This is the same old warmed over Keynesian economics that we've been hearing since the days of FDR. That is, if the government taxes everybody a whole lot and takes the money and pays people to do stuff, then we've somehow created jobs.
The trouble is, when you tax them, you have prevented other jobs from being created. So, in effect, what you've done is, yes, you've created jobs, but you've lost 2.2 jobs. So what sort of math is that? That's not a very good mathematical formula. So there's this talk about green jobs. In Spain, they call them ``subprime jobs,'' and they've now got, I think, 17.5 percent unemployment as a result of this nifty project that they're doing to get rid of CO2. The trouble is, even measured on the face of it, they're making more CO2 than they did before, so it isn't working.
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Mr. AKIN. If I could just interrupt and go over to my good friend from Pennsylvania, to Congressman Thompson, let's flesh out this idea.
If you do this solution that the Democrats are proposing, which is a cap-and-tax or a cap-and-trade or whatever you want to call it, how does that end up with our losing jobs? Let's go through that very specifically so that people can understand it, because that's what we're talking about. That's what happened in Spain. Let's go through that model and identify where those jobs went.
The brag that the Democrats were saying an hour ago was that they're going to create jobs and that everything is going to be better. Yet the very thing they're proposing in Spain has gotten them to 17.5 percent unemployment. Let's go through how that happens.
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Mr. AKIN. Reclaiming my time, let's go through this. So in other words, let's say we did what the Democrats want to do: let's do this great big tax increase. This is a very big tax increase. So what we're going to do is essentially tax energy. Now, as to energy issues within companies, some companies are using more than others, particularly aluminum manufacturing, steel manufacturing, your basic, hard manufacturing jobs. These then support lots of other burger flipping types of jobs that are very heavily energy intensive, but also food is very energy intensive. So now what's going to happen?
You're going to tax energy. When you tax it, it means the prices go up. The energy-producing company doesn't just pay the tax. It pays the tax, and it passes it on to the consumer. So the person who flips the light switch on or the person who lights up his pilot light to run his stove or his heater for natural gas or the people who fire up their diesel engines or their gasoline engines are paying more money. Therefore, those businesses are less competitive. In being less competitive, there are more foreign people who can compete and who can send products into this country. We can't compete against them because our prices go up. So, effectively, we send jobs overseas that way. We're less competitive. So the jobs go away.
The government taxes everybody in the private sector. The money comes out of the private sector. They use it to hire somebody. This then displaces a couple of jobs, and here we go around in this circle. This is basically what Morgenthau tried, the Secretary of the Treasury under FDR. He said that we're going to raise the taxes a whole lot, that we're going to spend a whole lot of money to ``stimulate the economy'' and that it will drive unemployment down.
Then he came here to this Chamber 9 years later, before the Ways and Means Committee, and his quote was: ``We've tried it and it doesn't work.'' Those were exactly his words: ``It doesn't work.'' So he said that now we've got high unemployment and a whole lot of taxes and a big debt to boot.
So this is the same old tried-and-true Democrat scheme of raising taxes and of creating and trusting the government, of trusting that the government is going to run it better than would free enterprise. Yet we've got this Department of Energy out there that was founded to get us off our dependence on foreign energy; and ever since it has been founded, it has gotten worse.
I yield to my good friend from Pennsylvania.
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Mr. AKIN. It's a treat to have you. I think you brought up a couple of very, very significant things.
First of all, we stood in this Chamber just a couple of months ago and heard the President say that anybody making less than $250,000 doesn't need to worry about any tax increases. Yet, this tax increase that is being proposed happens to anybody who flips a light switch. That means you could make a lot less than $250,000 a year and get hit with a tax.
This cap-and-tax--these circles here--represent different, expensive things that America has bought.
This is the war in Iraq and this is the Korean war, and you have got the gulf war over here. Over in the far right you've got Hurricane Katrina, different things like this. This is World War II, this big blue one. This is this tax: $1.9 trillion worth of tax. That's what's being proposed here. And we're just told if you're making $250,000 or less, you won't get any tax, and yet this taxes you when you turn the lights on, when you turn the thermostat up, when you start your car. That's what this tax is about right here. And when you eat food, that's what this tax is about.
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Mr. AKIN. Now, just reclaiming my time.
Now, my understanding was what we heard from the guy from Spain, he said that they had been able to get a lot of windmills and solar panels out there and that it was a significant part of what they generated. But he said here was the problem: When the weather didn't cooperate, they had to tell the big industries, You can't make any aluminum today because we don't have any electricity because the wind isn't blowing or the sun isn't shining. And they told the steel manufacturers, You can't make any steel. And so these companies are moving guess where? To America. They're moving out of Spain because of the fact that the energy is no longer reliable.
To make things worse--what they described to me was really chilling, and I need to jump over to my good friend from Louisiana who is also here on this, but this
is what really stuck in my mind. He said what they did was they took a whole bunch of bureaucrats and they guaranteed them that they could sell energy to the government at a certain high price so those people would invest in solar panels and windmills. They guaranteed the price, and now they've got this thing created and it's a political monster because you have all of these people with windmills and solar panels and they don't want to politically change it because that's where their revenue is coming from. So they've created this thing that's driving over 17 percent unemployment and all kinds of people are in on the government take and they don't want to change it.
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Mr. AKIN. What you're saying is, in simple terms, this cap-and-tax not only won't work; it's going to make a bad situation worse. It's not only going to create unemployment, but it's going to create more CO2.
The amusing thing is there is a chart here that--I just discovered this. If we were to double our nuclear power production--we're currently producing about 20 percent of our electric power through nuclear, 25 percent, somewhere in that range. If we were to double it, it would have the same effect as taking almost every passenger car off the road in terms of getting rid of CO2. And yet the funny thing is, do you know what happened in Spain, what they did with nuclear? They shut their nuclear stuff down, which is absolutely insane, because nuclear is the one kind of energy that doesn't make any CO2 at all and yet they shut it down. So this whole thing about CO2 being such a big problem, it seems like we're talking out of both sides of our mouth.
I promised my good friend from Utah I would let him have the last word before he had to scoot out of here.
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Mr. AKIN. I appreciate that great plug for freedom. I think there is something--there are a few statistics that all of our guests here tonight know these things.
But an awful lot of people don't know about it, and here's something that I thought was just amazing. If I were to say to you that this place where we work here, the U.S. Congress, is polarized between Republicans and Democrats on the abortion issue, you'd go, yawn, well of course they're polarized.
But what I don't think a lot of people know is that this Chamber is more polarized on the energy issue than we are on the abortion issue. We went back and took a look at about 8 years of voting between the two parties on developing American energy. And you know what we found? It's no surprise to you gentlemen. Ninety percent of the time where there is some proposal to help the development of American energy, Republicans voted for it, and even in the most mundane or the most easy to get along with politically, 86 to 88 percent of the Democrats voted ``no.'' There is a huge party-line difference on the development of American energy.
And I just think a lot of people aren't aware of that, but people say there's no difference between the parties. Boy, there sure is on this issue, isn't there?
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Mr. AKIN. Just reclaiming for a moment here, just to support what you're saying, this is kind of interesting. This is a Gallup poll about how do different people that are concerned with the environment, how do they rank global warming as compared to other kinds of environmental issues.
And this is March 2008 and March 2009. You can see both of these charts. It hasn't changed that much over a year, but the thing that was the most important to people in terms of environmental was the pollution of drinking water. That was their number one thing, and then they wanted water pollution, was also eighty-something percent, very important to people in terms of environmental concerns. All the way down, all the way over here to the smaller side, global warming is the last one, and yet that's all we've been doing for a month is global warming, and it suggests that maybe global warming isn't the real issue. Maybe that's just the horse that's supposed to pull a big fat tax increase. That's what we're starting to see here, and I yield to my friend from Georgia.
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Mr. AKIN. I would just like to discuss this a little bit with my good friend from Pennsylvania, Congressman Thompson. You know, I'm from Missouri, and I've been a legislator now a number of years. One of the things that is amusing is that the legislature passes some bill to do something, and the exact opposite thing happens of what they meant to have happen.
I'm just picturing some of my friends here tonight from Georgia and from Pennsylvania and Louisiana. I'm thinking about Missouri. And you put a big old tax on natural gas and electricity, and you know what the good old boy is going to do? They're going to break out that steel chainsaw. They're going to go to the wood lot. They're going to be cutting firewood, and they're going to be heating with wood and generating twice the CO2 that would have happened if this silly bill hadn't been passed.
And the funny thing is it must be happening that way in Spain because their CO2 has gone up in spite of the fact they got all this unemployment and taxes and this huge government bureaucracy they've created.
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Mr. AKIN. Well, now you're really hurting me when you start to get into that, but you know, that idea is that what you're doing is you're doing something that makes the economy sicker. That doesn't seem to be the thing that we want to do.
You know, the thing that strikes me, too, who is going to be paying this big tax? It's going to be the guy that is using electricity, the guy that's using natural gas, the guy that's buying food. Who is that? Is that rich people? No. That's, as you say, those are average Americans just trying to get along, barely got their lips above water, economy's in trouble, they're wondering whether they're going to have a job, they may have a kid home because the kid lost a job.
What are we talking about? We're talking about with this cap-and-tax, this proposal that's been proposed by the Democrats, what we're talking about here is every year you're going to have to come up with the amount of money you spend on for the average family on meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, produce, juices and vegetables, that is how much extra it's going to cost you. Or you want to put it in something else, consider furniture, appliances, carpet, and other furnishings. That's how much. All of these different categories here are smaller than what this tax is going to cost the average family.
This isn't something that the President says, hey, $250,000, don't worry, we're not going to tax you. This is taxing all of these families, and that's why
we get excited about it, and it doesn't need to be done. The fact of the matter is that we can have that energy independence just by using basic freedom.
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