Obama and Your Electric Bill

President Obama’s energy tax plan — a version of the failed European “cap and trade” global warming fiasco — may cost families $1,800 yearly in higher utility bills, far exceeding his promised $800 a year tax cut for 95% of Americans.

While campaigning, Obama admitted that his energy plan would cause electric bills to “skyrocket.”   Few took note, perhaps because Sen. John McCain also backed some form of a “cap-and-trade” energy tax.

Obama’s official budget claims that his proposed energy tax would add $646 billion to energy costs over 8 years. But that’s low-balling it.

As the Washington Times reported:

President Obama’s climate plan could cost industry close to $2 trillion, nearly three times the White House’s initial estimate of the so-called "cap-and-trade" legislation, according to Senate staffers who were briefed by the White House. . . . At the meeting, Jason Furman, a top Obama staffer, estimated that the president’s cap-and-trade program could cost up to three times as much as the administration’s early estimate of $646 billion over eight years.

Put another way, Furman estimates the cap-and-trade scheme will cost, on average, $250 billion annually.  That estimate must be taken seriously because Furman is deputy director of Obama’s National Economic Council.  

So what does this mean to everyday Americans?  Let’s put those numbers into context.

Total electricity sales (business and residential combined) run about $343 billion a year (according to 2007 Department of Energy figures). Throw in our other energy expenses — gasoline, natural gas, etc. — and the U.S. Department of Energy estimates our total energy spending at “over $500 billion.”

So Obama’s $250-billion a year energy tax could approach a 50% increase in what you, as a consumer, pay for energy, since all costs are passed along to consumers.  Yet the Obama budget audaciously claims that it will “reduce utility bills”

According to the White Fence Index, the average home utility bill is $297 per month, which is about $3,600 per year.  So a 50% increase would be $1,800 per year under the Obama proposal.   This far exceeds a Heritage Foundation projection of $467 a year in higher utility bills under an earlier U.S. Senate energy tax plan.  That less-aggressive plan, though, could have cost 500,000 to 1 million jobs, according to Heritage.  Who knows how many jobs would be lost under Obama’s more burdensome plan?  The lost jobs would become “gangrene jobs,” a counter to Obama’s claim to create new “green jobs.”

The White House and Mr. Furman try to justify drastically higher energy costs by offsetting it with their plan to give 95% of American families a permanent $800 per year “Making Work Pay” tax credit.  (42% of that “tax cut” would actually go to people who don’t pay any income tax.)  But even with the $800 subsidy, the net loss is $1,000 per family per year.  

Obama also proposes to use the new energy tax to subsidize “green energy” technologies.  The idea is to replace affordable nuclear and fossil energy sources with (far more expensive) renewal energy.  Replacing cheap power with expensive power will raise energy costs even above the increase attributable to Obama’s energy tax.

Obama and his allies justify it all by claiming it’s necessary to save the planet from man-made global warming, even though the Earth for many years has been cooling instead.

A recent Gallup poll found a record-high 41% of Americans now believe mainstream media exaggerate global warming dangers in their reporting.  They are not alone.

The ranks of skeptics keep expanding among the experts as well.  More than 800 experts who are dubious about environmental alarmism attended this month’s  International Conference on Climate Change.  That group so far has gathered signatures of more than 31,072 American scientists who endorse this conclusion:  "There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.”

Yet President Obama and his political allies in Congress are pushing aggressively for climate change legislation as a centerpiece of their agenda.

Americans angered by the big-spending liberal bent in Washington are already organizing tea parties in protest.  In addition to making teabags the symbol of protest, perhaps thermometers should be included as well.  Slogans such as, “Hands Off My Guns” may be replaced by “Hands Off My Thermostat.”

Nevertheless, one major man-made threat of global warming should never be overlooked — the quantity of hot air being emitted in Washington, DC.