Tom Borelli

The greatest impetus for the cap-and-trade bill was supplied by USCAP. As the Los Angeles Times reported, “Companies such as Alcoa and Duke Energy, the nation's largest producer of electricity generated by burning coal, have been marshaling votes on Capitol Hill, working behind the scenes with committee negotiators and providing what House leaders call a blueprint for compromise.”

In an unprecedented effort, USCAP members Duke Energy and Exelon (which are major utilities) and Environmental Defense (an environmental activist organization) are promoting cap-and-trade legislation through an advertising campaign. The ads, paid for by Environmental Defense, feature Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers and Exelon CEO John Rowe calling for a “smart cap” to reduce carbon emissions.

Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-MA), coauthor of the cap-and-trade bill, has recognized the importance of business support, saying, “Their support is indispensable."

In another first, companies supporting cap-and-trade are trying to silence trade association opposition to the global warming bill. Johnson & Johnson sent a letter to the U.S Chamber of Commerce asking the trade group to stop its opposition to Congressional action on global warming because that position does not reflect the views of all its members. Johnson & Johnson is a member of both USCAP and the Chamber.

Similarly, Duke Energy decided not to renew membership in the National Association of Manufacturers in part because of conflicting views over global warming legislation.

By co-opting corporate interests, the Left has brilliantly converted a former opponent into a powerful ally and constructed a win-win situation for the liberal-corporate axis.

In this deal, CEOs obtain special legislative carve outs that give their company a competitive advantage over competition. In addition, needy CEOs also get accolades from the liberal elite in the form of ego-boosting media stories and, for a select few, photo opportunities with the president.

In exchange, the Left acquires the almost unlimited resources of a corporation – lobbying, public relations and advertising – to promote its political agenda. With GE, the liberal movement also acquires the company’s media units (NBC, MSNBC and CNBC), which aggressively push the green agenda in news coverage and network programming.

Fundamentally, Obama and Waxman are fostering a form of Corporatism in which a collection of powerful special interest groups join together to advance their world view.

The losers are everyday Americans who cherish their individual liberty, consumer choice and standard of living – all of which will be reduced thanks to the adverse consequences of cap-and-trade.

While cap-and-trade must still pass the House of Representatives, and faces a high hurdle in the Senate, don’t underestimate the lobbying might and collective force of the labor unions, environmentalists and corporations supporting the energy policy of a popular president aided by a Congressional majority.

The overwhelming power of this juggernaut can overwhelm the resistance offered by conservative Republicans and fiscally moderate Democrats.

For the sake of liberty, let’s hope Obama’s corporatism strategy fails.

Tom Borelli

Tom Borelli, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow with FreedomWorks.

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