Conservative Spotlight: United for Jobs

Somehow, liberals, and particularly Democrats, have made it an article of conventional wisdom that they are on the side of the working class. They care about protecting the jobs of manual laborers from the excesses of the free market and the heartless attitudes of conservative businessmen, or so they say. This success is odd considering the baleful effect of so many liberal favorites–environmental policies, excessive government regulation, and higher taxes–on business and therefore American working-class jobs.

United for Jobs is a new coalition of conservative public policy groups making the case that conservative, free-market policies best preserve and expand the number of jobs in America. Exhibit No. 1: Opposition to the Kyoto protocol, which would devastate the American economy by severely restricting the amount of carbon dioxide that may be emitted into the atmosphere by developed nations. Carbon dioxide is produced by the burning of any organic substance, including oil and its derivatives and coal and wood. Manufacturing activity in particular generates a large amount of carbon dioxide.

Karen Kerrigan, president of the Small Business Survival Committee (SBSC) and one of the lead activists with the United for Jobs coalition, said, “That protocol would have been a huge barrier to entry into the market.” Opposition temporarily killed the Kyoto protocol, negotiated by Al Gore, but renascent versions of it continue to threaten Americans’ standard of living. After forming in April, United for Jobs’ first agenda item was the McCain-Lieberman bill to set up a “cap and trade” system to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which might as well have been called the Permanent Anti-Prosperity Act. “The bill was considered by the Senate on Oct. 29-30, 2003, and received a strong 43 votes in initial support,” says Lieberman’s website. “Senators Lieberman and McCain have pledged to bring the legislation back to the Senate floor for another vote as soon as possible.”

“We take an entrepreneurship and economic growth perspective,” said Kerrigan. “We were looking at what’s happening in the environmental community and and how they’re mobilizing, and wanted to form a response to that.” McCain-Lieberman “was really our first target,” she said. “We wanted to form before that hit the [Senate] floor because we needed to educate the public. It’s a domestic version of the Kyoto protocol that would ration energy by capping C02 emissions. It’s precisely the same type of regulation. It will drive jobs overseas.”

It can be hard to combat those who promise Americans something wonderful at little cost to themselves, said Kerrigan. “It’s something that sounds nice,” she said. “‘Everyone will get health care for free.’ ‘We will have a clean environment.'” But, she said, “When you get into the specifics of what these things will cost, we’ve always won….The left always comes back with bite-size proposals.”

“America’s dynamic economy depends on one thing more than any other–energy,” says United for Jobs’ website. “It feeds industry, keeps the information bits flowing, transports our goods, promotes our mobility and enables Americans to enjoy the highest standard of living in the world. Over the decades, as technology has become available, the pollution produced by these activities has diminished dramatically. Despite these gains, though, some environmental groups continue to attack America’s energy consumption. They view the use of fossil fuels not as boon to well-being but as a threat to the world’s climate and its oceans.”

The previous justification for requiring automakers to improve the fuel economy of their cars was the scarcity of oil and the prevalence of air pollution. Now, carbon dioxide–which is not a pollutant but a harmless and naturally large part of the atmosphere–is a further buttress to CAFE standards. “Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards were imposed on American automakers in the 1970s in an attempt to make America energy independent,” says United for Jobs. “They failed. Instead, according to the National Research Council, they cost more than 7,700 lives a year as they forced automakers to make lighter, smaller, less safe vehicles. Further, other studies indicate they also increased driving, thus resulting in more energy usage, not less. They also encouraged people to keep older, polluting vehicles longer, as well as those interested in safety and the convenience of size to buy sports utility vehicles and small trucks that have far lower mileage requirements.”

United for Jobs’ other lead coalition partners are the National Black Chamber of Commerce and the United Seniors Association. The environmentalist agenda will kill jobs, said Kerrigan, and that’s what people need to know. “There will be enough for us to do just between now and the election. . . to set the terms of the debate, which is that this will cost jobs,” she said.