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The Worst of all Worlds

The Washington Post editors, who generally have cheered climate change legislation, sound quite queasy about the cap-and-trade bill that squeaked through in the House. In particular, the editors are afraid of setting off a trade war with the tariff on countries which haven’t been so foolish as to hobble their own economics with the sort of “mandates, subsidies, and regulations” that Congress saw fit to pass. They write:

Even talk of tariffs sends exactly the wrong signal to skittish trading partners during a global downturn. Now is not the time to invite a trade war.

Are the tariffs’ extra layer of protection worth the risk? It is if you’re an American union boss. The rebate-tariff regime looks like yet another Waxman-Markey sop that the bill’s backers added to ensure its passage. We hope that the Senate, where the action is now, has the sense to remove the tariff provision, fix its trade compensation scheme and scale back the bill’s other excesses.

Yes, and what about those “other excesses”?

Granted legislation is the art of compromise but this one seems to have incorporated the worst elements from every special interest group, thus rendering the bill both economically disastrous and ineffective in its goal of limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Tariffs for Big Labor. Off-sets and free carbon permits for business (thereby nixing the incentive to create those “green” jobs). And plenty of taxes and mandates for Midwestern employers (“polluters,” the president calls them). There is plenty for everyone to hate. What is missing is a coherent scheme that meets its drafters’ stated purpose. Oh, and anything that is likely to produces those “jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs,” which Speaker Pelosi promised us.


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