Wednesday, March 11, 2009

President Obama's Dangerous Control Agenda, Tying Up the Free Market System Due to Bad Al Gore Science

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)--Democratic leaders - including U.S. President Barack Obama's top budget official - are considering a procedural tactic that could give them the power to ram a controversial climate change and energy bill through Congress. The administration and Democrats such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., hope to avoid obstruction by the Republicans and centrist Democrats who fear the potential economic impact of legislation to ax greenhouse gas emissions. The tactic is being discussed because of the dramatic impact of the bill: collection of "climate revenues" from a proposed cap-and-trade system could represent a major source of future revenue for the federal government. Democratic leaders are considering a process in the Senate known as "budget reconciliation," meant to fine-tune the government's expenditures and revenues later in the year, which needs only 51 votes compared to the standard 60 needed for contentious legislation. Some leaders see the alternative as an option of last-resort. Yet even having this option under consideration is raising the ire of many lawmakers and reveals how serious Obama is about passing a bill that axes greenhouse gas emissions. "Reconciliation is not the first place we would go, but we're at the beginning of the discussion and aren't going to take anything off the table at this point," Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag told Dow Jones Newswires Tuesday after a budget hearing in the Capitol. An aide with a senior Democrat said lawmakers are considering the option simply because "we want to get it passed, that's our strategy." Obama will face more than a handful of Democrats who've already voiced objections to the president's stringent climate change proposal. In Obama's fiscal year 2010 budget outlined earlier this month, the administration said it expected to start collecting "climate revenues" from a cap-and-trade system in 2012. Based on a very conservative price estimate of $20 a ton, Obama hopes to glean at least $646 billion by 2020 from the program, which would represent a significant future source of revenue for the federal government. Those revenues would be raised by a 100% auction of carbon credits - the right to emit greenhouse gases - but only around $15 billion a year would go towards funding low-carbon energy technologies, according to the Obama plan. A raft of senators from Rust Belt and coal-producing states last year said they couldn't support a climate proposal introduced onto the chamber floor, a bill less stringent than the president's proposal. They warned such a bill needed "great care" in crafting due to potential impacts on the economy, energy prices and industry competition. Those same senators, including Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., and Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., have again joined forces this year and are drafting a set of principles they say should guide climate bill legislation. The Environment and Public Works Committee chairman, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said slipping the climate bill into the budget reconciliation process may be the easiest route. The procedure also could be used for other controversial energy provisions that could mandate renewable energy production and give greater federal authority to site electricity transmission. Surveying the legislative landscape, the administration is using a multi-pronged approach to cutting greenhouse gases. The president has also directed the Environmental Protection Agency to draft new regulations for greenhouse gas emissions through the existing Clean Air Act. Forcibly creating new climate laws, either through the Clean Air Act or budget reconciliation, is highly controversial. When Obama's predecessor George W. Bush used the budget reconciliation process to push through his tax cuts in 2001, some Democrats were outraged, accusing the administration of by-passing the Democratic process. Leaders in Obama's own party are warning about the tactic. Sen. Max Baucus, a Democrat from coal-state Montana and the chairman of the Finance Committee, said "it's not a good idea," and the partisan nature of such a strategy would cause the administration trouble. "It's possible 51 votes could be found, but at what cost?" he said on the sidelines of party lunches. "There's lots of ways to throw sand into the Senate's gears.. even with reconciliation, there are ways to slow things down," he cautioned. Sen. Nelson said he was opposed to reconciliation, "because I don't think it's the appropriate way to deal with climate change. That needs to go through the regular order." Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said Congress needed more debate on climate change before passing legislation. Bingaman, who has supported a less onerous climate bill, suggested using reconciliation for climate change or including energy provisions would hinder passage. "It gets difficult to pass the bigger and more complex any legislation gets," he told reporters. Republicans are more blunt. "It's a horrible idea, would be seen as a vast power grab and would be wildly unpopular," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a member of the Senate GOP's leadership team. One way the administration could build support would be to give emission credits to some sectors such as utilities most exposed to a cap-and-trade program. "This is going to be extraordinarily difficult to accomplish," said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad. D-N.D., at a panel hearing Tuesday. It is "unlikely the bill will pass if it doesn't have money set aside for industries that will be especially hard hit." -By Ian Talley, Dow Jones Newswires; (202) 862 9285;; (END) Dow Jones Newswires March 11, 2009 12:19 ET (16:19 GMT) Copyright (c) 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.- - 12 19 PM EDT 03-11-09

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Gore will be the new GM CEO, that's the rumor at least.