Traditionally, voter distrust of the often cozy relationship between utility companies and Republican politicians has made utility rates a Democratic issue. Just as taxes are a Republican theme, utility rates -- at the state level -- are a Democratic mainstay.
But cap and trade reverses this political logic and makes higher utility rates a major issue for Republicans.
And, when the adverse impact of cap and trade on American manufacturing becomes apparent, it will turn blue-collar and labor-union voters against the president.
The question for Republicans is simple: By lending Obama Republican votes, in return for minor concessions, they are letting him escape the inevitable political damage these issues will cause. There is a time for triangulation, but now is the time to stand firm in strong opposition and not be bought off by compromises.
Even if Obama sheds the public option on health insurance providers and lets all the participants in his "insurance exchange" come from the private sector, the government-forced rationing that will still ensue will make this one of the most unpopular programs of all time.
Republicans should not, under any circumstances, give this bill even a single vote. To do so would be to offer Obama an out, doom America to a deteriorating health care system, and take away the Republican Party's best shot for regaining political power and majority status.