Cap-the-Well and Clean-up-the-Mess, Not Cap-and-Trade

“Never let a serious crisis go to waste.” – Rahm Emanuel, White House chief of staff

This remarkable sentence has, in essence, been the operating principle of Washington’s current leadership and one that has gradually brought America closer to a diminished future.

When the economy was in grave crisis, those in power used it as their trump card to ram through the $787 billion stimulus, the largest spending bill in American history that has failed to create the jobs it promised while burdening us with more debt.

While the economy was still in crisis, those in power pegged health-care reform as the priority issue. What we ended up with was a massive trillion-dollar law that brings us one step closer to government-run health care. And like most things coming out of Washington in the last 17 months, it comes with an unimaginable price tag that future generations will have to pay.

Now that the crisis at hand is the Gulf oil spill, those in power again detect an opening to advance another key pillar of their reckless agenda to redefine America’s economy and our very identity. This time, it’s cap-and-trade.

Last night in the Oval Office, President Obama used the Gulf oil spill to push for climate change legislation that won’t stop the leak but will add to the economic burdens of Florida and the Gulf Coast. Before he goes any further, the president must know that Florida and our Gulf neighbors don’t want or need a cap-and-trade policy from Washington. What we need is a cap-the-well and clean-up-the-mess plan.

We need more skimmers from around the world mobilized to help clean up the Gulf Coast. We need better oversight and coordination of boom. We need state governments that utilize tourism promotion money in a timely manner. We need BP to quickly process economic claims. We need a unified command that works with local governments so that places like Okaloosa County don’t feel that the only way they can effectively respond is to go at it alone. Ultimately, we need tangible signs that instill confidence that our nation’s leaders are on top of this crisis.

Instead, we have an unfocused federal government that has grown in areas it has little or no business being involved in, yet remains incapable of handling its core, limited duties of protecting Americans and responding to emergencies. Instead, we have a President who finds it difficult to resist the temptation of using another crisis to advance his political agenda.

Cap-and-trade would be disastrous policy at any time, but especially during this difficult economic time, and especially for Gulf Coast states reeling from the oil spill. Even the president himself admitted last night that there would be costs associated with passing the types of climate change policies that Rep. Kendrick Meek has voted for and that Gov. Charlie Crist has supported. As a candidate, the president himself admitted that electricity rates would “necessarily skyrocket,” while just last year Crist acknowledged that such a plan may be a hidden tax on energy consumption.

Make no mistake: If and when the time comes to act as a check and balance against a cap-and-trade scheme, I will do so, and I will bring my experience of fighting it at the state level to bear. Just as I opposed Governor Crist when he tried to impose cap-and-trade on Florida via executive order, I will protect Florida’s families, businesses and farmers by standing up against cap-and-trade in Washington.

But it shouldn’t come to that. Right now, the people of Florida and the Gulf Coast don’t need more economic burdens. They need help. They need action. Every moment Washington spends debating cap-and-trade will mean less focus on the Gulf oil spill and another lost moment for Florida and our neighbors. Whether it’s the fisherman in Destin, the waiter in Pensacola, or the hotel clerk in Panama City, our state cannot afford the president’s climate-change legislation — now or ever. Mr. President, keep your eye on the ball.

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