Word comes that the Democratic House leadership has rounded up the votes to pass climate change legislation on Friday. Roll Call reports:
Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) announced their agreement after emerging from a closed-door meeting with the fiscally conservative Blue Dogs.
“You guys will be happy to know we have an agreement by now,” Peterson said. “We have something that I think works for agriculture.”
With the support of lawmakers with farming interests, Waxman said there is now a “clear consensus” that the legislation has the backing of most industries and that it has “the majority we need” to pass.
So which Blue Dogs are going to roll over for an $800B energy tax? Which one of the Congressmen from Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, West Virginia, Pennsylvania or other energy-producing or industrial states are going to vote for what Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has described as “imperial climate change policy”? As he wrote:
This bill would impose enormous taxes and restrictions on free commerce by wealthy but faltering powers — California, Massachusetts and New York — seeking to exploit politically weaker colonies in order to prop up their own decaying economies.
I suspect Republicans won’t contribute a single vote, so this will be an entirely Democratic undertaking.
And maybe it isn’t exactly a done deal. Rep. Henry Waxman gives a rather weak prediction: “I think we will have the majority to pass the bill.” Hmm. Not exactly a ringing statement of confidence.
No wonder he’s not certain. Unemployment in Michigan is 14.1%, in Indiana it’s 10.6%, and in Ohio it’s 10.8%. Congressmen in these states are being asked to vote for something which is a net job-killer. Congressmen who are tempted to pass this will need to explain their vote in light of studies like the one from the National Black Chamber of Commerce, which determined that cap-and-trade would “reduce national GDP roughly $350 billion below the baseline level; cut net employment by 2.5 million jobs (even after accounting for new ‘green’ jobs); and reduce earnings for the average U.S. worker by $390 per year.”
If cap-and-trade does get through the House then it is on to the Senate. What are the prospects there? One Republican Senate aide explained, “It won’t go through without a fight over here. . . but they have 58 guys, so nothing’s a sure thing to be blocked, unfortunately.” Once again, the pressure will be on the moderate Democrats. Can Evan Bayh tell Indiana voters they are going to give up jobs for a miniscule reduction in greenhouse gasses which India and China will surely match? He’s up for re-election in 2010. Then there is good ole, reliable Arlen Specter from coal-producing Pennsylvania and Red state moderates like Blanche Lincoln, Mark Pryor, and Byron Dorgan.
Nancy Pelosi and Henry Waxman may be thrilled to bring climate change to a vote. Environmental lobbyists will be thrilled. Al Gore will throw them a ticker-tape parade. And there are many lawmakers who would love nothing better than to cast a feel-good vote to save the planet. But for those members in unsafe seats, from states with high unemployment? Not so thrilled, perhaps.