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Economic Bloodletting

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Bloodletting was once routinely prescribed to eliminate impurities that doctors believed caused disease. So when George Washington was stricken with malaria and a sore throat in December 1799, his physicians bled a quart of blood from his weakened body, and followed that with laxatives and emetics.

A few hours later, Washington died – from a cure far worse than the disease.

Today, our nation is in a recession. Millions are unemployed. The financial services, housing and stock market meltdown has hammered incomes, consumer spending, college and retirement savings, profits, tax revenues, charity, remittances and foreign aid. Europe, Asia, Canada and Australia are also reeling, and Mumbai has again shown how terrorists can disrupt lives and economies.

President-Elect Obama and Congress have responded with promises to spend $1 trillion or more, to bail out banks, homeowners, taxpayers, auto makers and other beleaguered groups; fix roads and bridges; and weatherize buildings, develop renewable energy and create “green jobs.”

The economic situation is so dire, they say, that we can’t worry about federal deficits. The “patient” needs a large “blood infusion” stimulus to “get the economy moving.”

But the proposed infusion is artificial blood: government loans, largesse and massive indebtedness for our children. How the patient will respond to these experimental treatments is uncertain. Reduced taxes and regulations would stimulate many more private sector initiatives and jobs; but those curatives are not on the table.

Instead, there is a real danger that the stimulus actions will be followed by the economic equivalent of medical practices that killed our first president.

The appointment of moderate economists to the Obama team cheered markets. However, energy and environmental appointments and proclamations underscore an agenda of higher taxes, more regulations and other malpractice that will ensure reduced investment, increased layoffs, shorter work weeks, and more families forced to choose between heat, food, medicine, gasoline, vacation and saving.

Precluding access to oil, gas, coal and uranium would deprive America of fuels that produce 93% of the energy that makes quality jobs, living standards, food, health and transportation possible. Locking up those resources would force us to continue spending our children’s inheritance on foreign oil – and to forego $2 trillion in leasing, royalty and tax revenues that could help pay for defense, bailout, stimulus, renewable energy and low-income energy programs.

Even worse bloodletting would be administered in the name of global warming. Mr. Obama wants a stringent cap-and-trade program, to slash carbon dioxide emissions by 17% (to 1990 levels) by 2020 and another 80% by 2050. He says any company trying to build a coal-fired generating plant will be “bankrupted” by greenhouse gas emission fees.

If Congress fails to act expeditiously on cap-and-trade, the Obama Administration could unleash the Environmental Protection Agency’s newly proposed rules – and regulate virtually our entire economy under the Clean Air Act. Those rules would immediately impose even more draconian restrictions on carbon dioxide and methane released from almost every power plant, factory, farm, office and apartment building, hospital, school, car maker and dealership, train and airline in the nation.

Two dozen mostly Southern and Midwestern states depend on coal for 47-98% of their electricity. Their utility bills are typically half of what business and residential consumers pay in less-coal-dependent states. That translates into cheaper manufacturing, more jobs and better living standards.

Nationwide, half of our electricity is generated with coal – most of it in power plants whose pollution is 95% below 1970 levels. That’s a far cry from the 1% generated with wind and solar power.

Raise the rates – and manufacturers, businesses, communities and families will be battered. Destroy our wealth-generating capability, and there will be little left to redistribute or invest in renewable energy.

Restrict hydrocarbon energy use in minority areas, and black, Hispanic and Native American families will see their economic opportunities and civil rights rolled back. People will die, if they cannot afford proper heating, air-conditioning, nutrition and medical care.

A cap-and-trade bill like Warner-Lieberman would cost 3 million U.S. manufacturing jobs and $7 trillion in lost GDP, as the bills slap increasingly heavy taxes on hydrocarbon energy, the Heritage Center for Data Analysis calculates. The EPA regulatory regime would be even more onerous and costly.

Either action would drain the lifeblood from our economy, wasting the trillion-dollar “blood infusion,” and turn the recession into a depression. And for what?

President-Elect Obama, Al Gore, James Hansen and others say “the science is settled,” and we are hurtling toward climate disaster. But thousands of scientists vigorously disagree. An updated U.S. Senate Minority Report features 650 climate experts (including many current and former UN-IPCC scientists) who say there is no evidence to support the climate cataclysm hypothesis.

Computer models and worst-case scenarios are not evidence – and not one of them has accurately predicted temperatures, storms or droughts even one year into the future, much less 10, 50 or 100. Actual, measured temperature, hurricane frequency and intensity, floods, droughts and sea level changes are completely within the realm of observed variability over the centuries. Indeed, according to satellite measurements, planetary warming stopped in 1998, even as global CO2 levels continue to rise.

Nor is there any evidence that the proposed bloodletting would stabilize our Earth’s constantly changing climate – or do anything except cause the quack physicians’ American economic patient to die.

China and India are building new coal-fired power plants every week – and their expanding greenhouse gas emissions now dwarf even the economy-killing cuts that Obama, EPA and congressional Democrats are proposing. Europe’s emissions are well above 1990 levels and even further above their promised reductions under Kyoto. Yet not one EU nation is prepared to impose new cap-and-trade or CO2 cuts that would jeopardize jobs, especially during this recession.

The President and members of Congress are sworn to serve the best interests of the United States. They violate their oath of office when they try to impose destructive policies that advance the agendas of professional activists who remain fixated on climate disaster scenarios, despite real-world evidence to the contrary – and regardless of the widespread harm their agendas would cause, especially for poor, elderly, minority and working-class families.

It’s time for Americans everywhere to demand solid evidence, robust debate, honest congressional hearings, and responsible energy and economic decisions. We need to prevent further bloodletting, end the recession, and preserve our nation’s freedom, opportunity and prosperity.

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