Cap and Tax Markup Begins

House Democrats yesterday began their multi-day markup in the Energy and Commerce Committee of the Waxman-Markey bill known as the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES).  The bill is more commonly known as the “cap and trade” national energy tax bill.  There is no Republican on record as supporting this enormous tax increase.

Authored by committee chairman Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Ca.) and Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the bill was in trouble before it got out of the gate.  The fact that the bill will impose enormous costs — no one knows how much yet, but enough to cause Rep. Mike Pence (R-In) to say it’s a declaration of economic war against the Midwest — has cost it support among key moderate Democrats.   The Blue Dogs may have grown weary of wearing footprints on their backs from the stampede to the far left.  

So far, Waxman has made enough deals with some resisters — such as Virginia’s Rick Boucher, representing coal state Dems and John Dingell of Michigan, who wants to protect automakers – that it appears he can get the bill out of committee.

Nevertheless, if this bill does languish, Democrats left the door open in the budget bill language to attempt to ram this legislation through using the controversial budget reconciliation scheme that would side-step the filibuster process in Senate allowing for passage with 51 votes instead of the standard 60 to end said filibuster.

Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the House minority leader, said yesterday, “It’s disappointing that Democrats are barreling ahead with a national energy tax on anyone who drives a car, buys anything made in America, or dares to flip on a light switch.  At a time when middle-class families and small businesses are struggling to make ends meet, particularly as gas prices spike heading into the summer driving season, it is unfathomable that some in Washington would force them to cough up even more by paying an unprecedented national energy tax.”

As part of a coordinated effort to low-ball the impact of the national energy tax, the President’s Environmental Protection Agency scrambled to release an analysis of the draft Waxman-Markey legislation.  

Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) ranking Republican on the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming was quick to point out that the findings of the EPA analysis were flawed.  According to a report issued yesterday by select committee Republican staff, the Democrat staff on the full Energy and Commerce committee “provided the agency with data that wasn’t reflected in the bill’s language.”

The Republican staff report pointed out that the most obvious problem with the EPA analysis is that it assumed 2 billion tons of carbon offsets are called for in the ACES draft legislation.  The bill’s language on offsets does not come close to approaching those numbers.

“EPA officials told Republican staff that the offset levels were one of the biggest drivers of its cost analysis,” Sensenbrenner said.  “As the report shows, Democratic staff instructed the EPA to assume offset levels that were dramatically higher than what the draft actually allowed.  Whether they misread their own bill or deliberately mislead the EPA, I’m not sure.”

The Heritage Foundation’s analysis of ACES found the legislation if enacted would destroy as many as 1.9 million jobs.  Electricity rates would rise by up to 90 percent, gasoline by 74 percent, and the average family’s electricity bill would increase by $1,500 a year.  

“If the EPA didn’t have time to a thorough analysis, it should have declined to produce a report,” Sensenbrenner said.  “Instead, what we have is a document that ignores major cost-influencing factors.  That’s not the transparency the people deserve… This bill, which I call cap-and-tax, threatens to raise energy costs for all Americans and potentially cost millions of jobs. With our country mired in recession, members of Congress need reliable, accurate information before considering this radical new energy tax.”

Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), a taxpayer advocacy group that opposes all tax increases, also reviewed the Waxman-Markey “cap and trade” draft legislation.  The review found that the cost of the bill will exceed $600 billion in additional taxes to American families.

Grover Norquist, the president of ATR, told HUMAN EVENTS yesterday, "’Cap and trade’ is a euphemism for ‘massive tax hike." President Obama is once again making a mockery of his promise not to raise taxes on those making less than $250,000.”

The review also addressed federal standards in the bill that would not only raise taxes but put at further risk the lives of anyone who drives or rides in a vehicle.

From the link:

•  The bill’s mandated increase of Corporate Average Fuel economy (CAFE) for vehicles increases costs and diminishing consumer choices.
•    CAFE forces automakers to produce smaller and lighter cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that these lighter cars will increase American traffic fatalities by almost 40,000.
•    ATR strongly opposes this standard because it will cost both lives and money. CAFE will cost American drivers more than $6.71 billion between 2010 and 2011.