COMMON SENSE says that if you impose a massive tax on a product, that product will be more expensive. And if that product is essential to a particular sector of our economy, then we will witness job losses in that sector. In fact, if I told you that taxing a particular industry would create jobs in that industry, you would probably laugh out loud.
But that is exactly the argument my opponent, Congressman Joe Sestak, tried to make recently in a commentary on these pages.
Last spring, Congressman Sestak co-sponsored and voted for a cap-and-trade bill that would impose a massive tax on energy. If you put a massive tax on energy, all forms of energy -- from electricity, to gasoline, to natural gas -- become more expensive. That means families have higher electricity bills, it costs more to fill up at the pump, and businesses, especially energy intensive industries, will have to deal with skyrocketing costs. The inevitable result will be fewer jobs, and the industrial base in Northeastern Pennsylvania would be especially hard hit.
This is a non-controversial concept. And a host of independent studies and bipartisan elected officials across Pennsylvania understand it -- but not Congressman Sestak.
According to a National Association of Manufacturers' study, Sestak's cap-and trade energy tax would cost Pennsylvania more than 70,000 jobs in the years ahead. In just six years, it would increase gas prices by 6 to 8 percent, oil prices by 6 to 12 percent and natural gas prices by 14 to 21 percent. Over time,
this surge would accelerate.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission echoed these findings, writing in a letter to the Pennsylvania congressional delegation that a cap-and-trade bill would result in a net loss of 66,000 Pennsylvania jobs and a sizable hike in residential electric bills.
President Obama admitted as much in a March interview, saying, "Under my plan ... electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket." The Obama administration also admitted that the energy tax would cost families $1,761 per year.
Sestak's energy tax will hurt Pennsylvania's coal, natural gas and manufacturing industries especially hard. Pennsylvania is the fourth-largest coal-producing state in the country and coal plays a major part in the commonwealth's economy and electricity production. Coal accounts for more than half of all electricity produced in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania is also home to the Marcellus Shale, one of the largest unconventional natural gas reserves in the world. It has the potential to turn our state into a major producer of clean energy and create thousands of jobs. But the new energy tax could doom this budding industry before it has a chance to develop.
The cap-and-trade proposal is so harmful to Pennsylvania it has garnered bipartisan opposition across the state. When the U.S. House of Representatives voted on Sestak's cap-and-trade bill last June, one third of Pennsylvania Democratic congressmen joined all Pennsylvania Republicans in voting against it.
In all, 44 House Democrats across the country opposed the bill in a truly bipartisan effort to stop this massive job-killer.
That bipartisan group does not include Congressman Joe Sestak, who not only voted for the bill, he even expressed regret that it did not go far enough. But that is typical of Congressman Sestak's extremely liberal record.
We can and must support common-sense policies that protect our environment; but that goal can be achieved without abandoning 70,000 or more Pennsylvania jobs and imposing higher gas and electricity prices on all Pennsylvanians.
A focus on renewable energy, conservation, low-carbon energy such as natural gas, nuclear energy and cleaner-coal technology are all part of the solution. But as unemployment hovers above 9 percent, protecting our hardworking families must be our first priority.