Eager to protect Democratic senators from coal-producing and heavy industrial states, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was expected to pull the Lieberman-Warner carbon-cap bill from the Senate floor today – and Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says it’s not coming back. This is a major, but temporary, victory for conservatives. And it is worth reviewing why we won this battle, so we will be ready when the left tries to force similar policy on Americans in the future.

We Exposed the Truth
Lieberman-Warner, and the “cap and trade” policy it seeks to implement, is fundamentally dishonest public policy. By invoking words like “market” and “trade,” supporters try to mask what carbon capping really is: the largest tax increase in the history of the world.

Anyone who understands economics at all knows this is true. Which is why businesses paid lobbyists millions to carve out exceptions and subsidies for themselves. And it’s why labor unions fought to secure billions in slush funds for the millions of their members that carbon capping would unemploy. The American people understand this, and are unwilling to pay more in energy prices for a policy that does not work.

The Science Is On Our Side
Every credible institution that examined carbon-capping policies concluded it would harm the U.S. economy. On the other hand, claims by environmental activists that global warming will damage the economy have been discredited. But even if global warming were a threat to our economy, carbon capping would do nothing to solve the problem. If the U.S. met the Lieberman-Warner goals, it would result in just 0.013 degrees Celsius of “prevented” warming by 2050. If the whole world met the Kyoto treaty’s goals, only 0.11 degrees C would be saved by 2050.

The Left Is Divided
While groups such as the Environmental Defense Fund and the National Resources Defense Council lobbied hard for Lieberman-Warner, other activist groups such as Friends of the Earth and Center for American Progress were against the bill.  Opponents on the left thought Lieberman-Warner was much too lenient in its carbon-reduction goals and they didn’t appreciate giveaways to large corporations such as General Electric. But that may change if the left can unify under a Democratic president.

Next Time
When carbon-capping legislation comes before Congress again — and it will –conservatives need to highlight more honest voices from within the left to expose the truth. The Breakthrough Institute’s Michael Shellenberger wrote this week:

But environmental groups will never win this battle for the simple reason that the public, and thus their elected policymakers, are far more concerned about rising energy prices than they are about global warming. This, in a nutshell, is the Gordian Knot: increase energy prices too high, and face a political backlash; don’t increase them enough, and the regulation is ecologically irrelevant.

Quick Hits:

  • A mob of loyalists to Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe yesterday attacked vehicles carrying U.S. and British diplomats  investigating political violence ahead of a presidential runoff election this month.
  • Since the British already have banned guns, the government is considering “knife control” to combat a rise in youth violence.
  • The No. 2 commander of U.S. military forces in Iraq says he is confident he has enough troops to preserve stability.
  • The House passed a budget that includes not only the largest tax increase in history, but also spends billions more than President Bush requested.
  • Barack Obama may have ordered the Democratic National Committee not to accept campaign contributions from lobbyists, but the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will completely ignore him.