The United States Senate declared that any revenues generated from a carbon cap-and-trade scheme or carbon tax could not be used to fund government programs, including the initial stages of government-run health care. By adopting an amendment by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), policymakers stated that American consumers should be held harmless from any electricity or gas price increases caused by taxing carbon emissions.
In other words, the Senate has rejected the notion advanced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) that the so-called “climate revenues” could be used to pay for the “first phase of health care reform.” Even Reid and Conrad voted against their recent suggestion that cap, tax and spend was the correct approach. Ironically, Senator Boxer’s bill last year made very little effort to hold consumers harmless, preferring to funnel $6.7 trillion into various federal slush funds.
Of course, the whole notion that consumers, even lower income consumers, can be held harmless under a carbon-rationing bill is simply untrue. By dramatically increasing the price on affordable domestic energy, costs to consumers will rise and the American economy will shrink. No amount of government handouts or rebates can offset the loss of nearly 3 million manufacturing jobs. Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office recently affirmed, “No program could address all the region- and household-specific circumstances that could affect families’ costs.”
By approving an amendment by Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) which would prohibit any carbon-rationing bill from raising the cost of electricity or gasoline, 89 Senators recognized that Americans cannot be held harmless in this high-stakes game of economic roulette.
Even though these provisions are likely to be stripped in a conference committee with the House, it’s a positive sign that Senators recognize the perils associated with a radical environmental agenda that will do very little to affect global temperatures. Now, if they only honor that vote.