The Waxman-Markey global warming bill – already the most convoluted attempt at economic central planning this nation has ever seriously considered – just got a lot more complicated with hundreds of pages of last-minute changes. Though it would take weeks for members of Congress to figure out exactly what this now-1,200 page bill does, it is scheduled for a rush vote by the end of the week. But one thing is certain – it still is a massive energy tax that would severely hurt the American people and the American economy.
The current version does not weaken the stringent targets and timetables for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels. They must decline by 3 percent in 2012, 17 percent by 2020, and 83 percent by 2050. Since fossil fuels comprise 85 percent of the nation’s energy and there is no way to cheaply substitute for them, the targets amount to energy rationing. Prices for gasoline, electricity, and natural gas have to rise high enough so that individuals and businesses are forced to use less of them. Economic pain is how these ever-tightening targets are met.
The Heritage Foundation estimates electricity costs rising by 90 percent by 2035, gasoline by 58 percent, and natural gas by 55 percent. A household of four can expect to pay $1,241 more for energy annually by that year. And since higher energy costs raise the price of everything else, the total impact of this energy tax would reach nearly $3,000 per household per year from 2012-2035. Total gross domestic product losses average $383 billion annually from 2012-2035 and would total $9.4 trillion dollars.
High energy costs also kill jobs, especially energy-intensive manufacturing jobs. An estimated 1,145,000 will be lost under this bill. Farming is also energy intensive, and thus would be badly harmed. Heritage estimates lower farm profits by 28 percent in 2012 alone, and 57 percent from 2012-2035.
In response to complaints from farmers and their representatives, proponents of the bill provided some free rights to emit carbon dioxide to rural electric cooperatives. In all likelihood, rural electricity and other energy prices would still go up, and the disproportionate burden on farmers and other rural residents would barely be dented.
There is no tinkering around the high costs of Waxman-Markey, and even assuming a few hundred more pages are added tomorrow or the day after, this remains a massive energy tax.