Health care isn’t the only destructive White House priority running into trouble in the Senate. Yesterday, Barbara Boxer (Marin County) and John Kerry (Nantucket) announced that Democrats won’t release their cap-and-trade bill next week as scheduled after all, but will instead postpone it for up to a month. It’s far too early to say that carbon tax and cap is dead, but mark this delay down as one more sign that it remains well short of 60 votes.
Ms. Boxer and Mr. Kerry insist that all systems are still go, though it didn’t sound that way when the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin of Illinois, told Bloomberg TV last month that “I have to be honest with you. As a whip, I count the votes and I count the days in the week, and I look at this rule book in the Senate and think this is not an easy lift. I think we can still do it, but it’s a question of timing.”
Presumably, and we hope, he was talking about the very distant future. Cap and tax will most hurt the rural and Midwest states that most rely on coal-fired power and heavy manufacturing. Middle-American Senators aren’t about to rush through a huge new tax on carbon energy—e.g., their constituents—that will largely flow to the wealthier coasts, even if it is done in the name of saving the planet while the here-and-now economy is still sputtering.
The House barely passed the Waxman-Markey climate bill in June, and only after weeks of arm-twisting and outright legislative bribery and at significant political cost to Blue Dog Democrats. The same tactics won’t be as effective in the upper chamber. In any case Ms. Boxer, Mr. Kerry and President Obama really have to convince Members of their own party, such as Kent Conrad (North Dakota), Jay Rockefeller (West Virginia) and Blanche Lincoln (Arkansas).
The rest here.