Morning Bell: Ed Markey’s Illuminating Marker
Conn Carroll /
Editorializing in favor of the Lieberman-Warner cap-and-trade bill set to be debated in the Senate next week, the New York Times urges liberals to “make sure that the economics of this debate are framed in a positive way.” The newspaper need not worry: liberal activist groups and politicians have been trying to spin the largest tax increase in the history of mankind as boon for the economy for some time now. Sen. Hillary Clinton says her cap-and-trade plan would create 5 million new jobs. Sen. Barack Obama promises to use funds from taxing carbon to spend $210 billion to create 5 million new jobs. And the Natural Resources Defense Council recently took out a full-page ad in, of all places, the New York Times blaring “THE ECONOMIC STIMULUS PLAN THAT CAN SAVE THE WORLD.” The “plan” the NRDC was referring to: the Lieberman-Warner cap-and-trade bill.
If you want to trust the NRDC, you are free to do so. But the Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill would raise taxes on energy by $1.13 trillion by 2018. An MIT study shows it would raise gas prices 42% by 2020 and the price of electricity by 55% by 2015. The EPA estimates Lieberman-Warner would reduce the growth of GDP by between 0.9% and 3.8% by 2030 and between 2.4% and 6.9% by 2050. Only hardcore environmental activists could call those results “economic stimulus.”
But perhaps liberals in Congress really do believe a de facto carbon tax like the Lieberman-Warner bill would be a boon for the economy. But if so, why stop at Lieberman-Warner’s relatively modest goals of a 70% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050? If imposing huge energy taxes on American families is so good for them, why not go further? Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) would do just that. Next week he will introduce a cap-and-trade bill in the House that would cut emissions by 85% by 2050. Even better, instead of giving away some carbon credits to favored industries like the Lieberman-Warner bill does, Markey would force energy users to buy all their carbon allowances. Markey says his emissions permit auction would generate $8 trillion in revenue. In other words, Markey wants to impose a new $8 trillion energy tax on American consumers. Now that is an economic stimulus plan the NRDC can get behind!
Speaker Nancy Pelosi probably will not bring Markey’s bill to the floor of the House for a vote this year. Best not imperil freshman Democrats in swing districts by forcing them to vote for an $8 trillion tax increase that their constituents know would kill the U.S. economy. But that doesn’t mean conservatives in the Senate should let the Markey bill die a quiet death. They should bring it with them to every debate and force proponents of Lieberman-Warner to admit their economic stimulus claims are pure spin.
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