At the bottom of its story today called “Reid and Senate Democrats unveil ‘framework’ for immigration reform,” Climate Wire reports: “Earlier in the week, Reid had hinted that climate legislation could advance before immigration because legislative language has been written.”
Of course, the Finance and other committees haven’t actually produced a bill, and instead Reid said he would suspend the committee process for cap-and-tax (as with health care). And it seems he has. What, after all, did they send to the EPA claiming that the proposal is being scored? (Kudos to the American Energy Alliance for asking the EPA under a FOIA request).
Given that it’s written, there’s really no reason not to introduce it — or at least let us see it, too, since EPA and other senators less afraid of people finding out what’s in the bill apparently have (e.g., the Cantwell-Collins “cap-and-dividend”: the bill that would give to some people some of the money back that we’re told out of others’ mouths a cap bill won’t cost them.)
So why can’t we see the bill?
Because of serious, career-threatening political risk, if it’s given a good once-over before the cram-down. The reason for Sen. Graham’s withdrawal from Kerry/Graham/Lieberman on the grounds that immigration would be moved first seemed obvious to me: He was terrified of having the legislative language of cap-and-trade and a gas tax (“no, it’s a . . . ‘carbon-linked fee,’ . . . yeah, that’s the ticket”) subject to public scrutiny — i.e., if the climate bill weren’t rushed through, we all would get a chance to see what they are planning to do to us, and that would cost him terribly. And it would ensure what’s likely anyway (though not guaranteed: remember Maine): no Republicans following his lead.
Also, if the bill’s language didn’t include a gas tax or a “carbon-linked fee” to get the oil companies’ support (why should they have to pay for it all when they can pass the anti-savings onto you?) that would raise questions about how the system would actually work while excluding such an enormous sector. Of course, that question is already raised by their exclusion of agriculture from the bill. That’s one lobby that Reid &co don’t think they can sufficiently pay off — unlike some of the oil majors and the utilities — and one that has the ability to sink their ship if targeted directly for its emissions. In fact, even the indirect hit that agriculture would take from the increased fuel, feed, and fertilizer costs that cap-and-trade necessitates might be enough to sour them on the bill. (Though, unlike American Petroleum Institute and the Chamber, the American Farm Bureau has no massive ad budget lined up if they’re shut out of the rents.)
So, here we have fairly strong confirmation of the plan — and the cowardice of the planners. (You know, just in case you needed confirmation after the decision was made to rebrand cap-and-trade as an energy bill instead, followed soon after by John Kerry saying “this is not an environment bill.” The issue never was the issue, at least not since their long-championed carbon excuse for this Power Grab lost its mojo with the public.) Now we know that the language will be introduced only when enough constituencies are satisfied with their rents that they call off their planned ad campaigns and give political cover instead.
It’s as bad as you knew it would be. And the health-care-like process only confirms that, and makes matters that much worse.