The Obama Energy Tax Game Plan

Posted: Jun 15, 2010 10:06 AM
Guest post from Conn Carroll of the Heritage Foundation

In February of this year, after Sen. Scott Brown’s (R-MA) victory put Obamacare on life support, health insurer Anthem Blue Cross announced a 39% rate hike for its individual market subscribers in California. Despite the fact that the President’s health care plan will only drive health insurance rates higher, the White House seized on this story to revive the government takeover of the health insurance industry. Two months later when the President’s financial regulation plan was stalled in the Senate, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Goldman Sachs with fraud in marketing some of its subprime mortgage investment products. Again, the White House pounced on this news to get its preferred legislation through Congress.

Now that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has turned into an environmental disaster, the White House is again trying to turn public anger at one corporation into massive government intervention of an entire sector of the economy. In an email to his leftist Organizing for America activists, President Barack Obama previewed his Oval Office address tonight calling on Congress “to move forward on legislation to promote a new economy powered by green jobs, combat climate change, and end our dependence on foreign oil.” Separately, Joel Benenson, a pollster for the Democratic National Committee and Obama’s presidential campaign, circulated a memo on Capitol Hill arguing that a comprehensive energy bill “could give Democrats a potent weapon to wield against Republicans in the fall.” Politico reports that Benenson’s recommended “messaging architecture” includes the slogan “Making BP Pay Isn’t Enough” and adds: “frame the opposition” as “Big Oil and corporate polluters who have blocked energy reform for decades” and “politicians protecting the special interests that fund their campaigns."[# More #]

The irony here is that BP has been a special interest pushing for carbon pricing on Capitol Hill for years now. It was a founding member of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a corporatist entity that exists to enact “fair climate change.” And of course by “fair” they mean whatever subsidies and mandates they can extract from the federal government to best protect their bottom line. So this February, BP actually pulled out of USCAP because they thought: “We can be more effective if we show up in the discussion as BP.” As The Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney reports: “They made out particularly well in the House’s climate bill, while natural gas producers suffered.”

As far as the strategy in the Senate goes, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told The New York Times last week that Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) would use elements of the Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act, the Cantwell-Collins carbon pricing plan, and the Bingaman renewable energy standard bill. A Senate aide told Politico: “an energy deal must include some serious effort to price carbon as a way to slow climate change.” The important thing to remember is that none of this is new. As Heritage Foundation Senate Relations Deputy Dan Holler reported the day before the Deepwater Horizon explosion, Reid has been planning a bait-and-switch from the beginning: first bringing up the Kerry-Lieberman cap-and-trade bill, striking it, and then replacing it with the less well known Bingaman renewable energy standards.

The left knows that the American public has been educated about the economic harms of cap-and-trade, and they are hoping they can use the BP oil spill to pass renewable energy standards (RES) before the public wises up. Don’t be fooled: an RES is just another way for the enviro-left to inflict an economy-killing energy tax on the American public. The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis has crunched the numbers and found that an RES would: 1) Raise electricity prices by 36 percent for households and 60 percent for industry; 2) Cut national income (GDP) by $5.2 trillion between 2012 and 2035; 3) Cut national income by $2,400 per year for a family of four; 4) Reduce employment by more than 1,000,000 jobs; and 5) Add more than $10,000 to a family of four’s share of the national debt by 2035.

In The Godfather, at Vito Corleone’s funeral, the family consiglieri Tom Hagan leans into the new Don Michael Corleone and whispers: “Do you know how they’re gonna come at’cha?” If the American public wants to avoid a self-inflicted economic disaster on top of the existing environmental one, they need to know how President Obama is going to come after them. Now you know.

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