Planet Gore

A Welcome Debate

This morning’s Wall Street Journal did some nice stage-setting for the Lieberman-Warner dog-and-pony show this week, most of which Planet Gore regulars will find familiar. But they do get a few good shots in at Barbara Boxer.

[C]alifornia Democrat Barbara Boxer last week introduced 157 pages of amendments to Warner-Lieberman. Most notably, she sets aside at least $800 billion through 2050 for consumer tax relief. So while imposing a huge new tax on all Americans, she vouchsafes to return some of the money to some people. Needless to say, the Senator will be the judge of who receives her dispensation.
Ms. Boxer’s amendment shows that cap and trade is also a massive wealth redistribution scheme — all mediated by her and her fellow Platonic rulers. Oh, and she also includes an “emergency off-ramp,” should costs prove too onerous. This is really a political “off-ramp” to make Warner-Lieberman seem less dangerous, but you can imagine her reaction if some future Republican President decided to take it.
The upshot is that trillions in assets and millions of jobs would be at the mercy of Congress and the bureaucracy, all for greenhouse gas reductions that would have a meaningless impact on global carbon emissions if China and India don’t participate. And only somewhat less meaningless if they do.
Warner-Lieberman has no chance of becoming law this year with President Bush in the White House. But the goal of this Senate exercise is political — to get Members on the record early, preferably before the burdens of cap and trade become more widely understood; to give Democrats a campaign issue; and to pour the legislative foundation that the next Administration could cite as it attempts to regulate carbon limits while waiting for Congress to act.
So by all means let’s have this debate amid $4 gasoline, and not only on C-Span. If Americans are going to cede this much power to the political class, they at least ought to do it knowing the price they will pay.

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