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Politicians hot on money trail
May, 31st 2008

During the first week of June the Senate will begin debate on perhaps the most far-reaching, potentially costly, economy-devastating government intrusion since the Great Depression. Hold on to your wallets, Washington is coming to your rescue.

Under the guise of saving us from evils of global warming, the Lieberman-Warner America's Climate Security Act, or S2191, effectively would impose a hidden tax on nearly every facet of American life by creating mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

Politicians can't get away with a direct tax, so they resort instead to this backdoor approach.

It's obvious why. For example, a National Center for Public Policy Research poll recently found 65 percent of Americans opposed to paying higher gasoline prices to combat global warming.

Under S2191, companies exceeding permissible emission levels will be allowed to buy "credits" from companies emitting less than government-imposed limits. This zero-sum game will do little to reduce emissions, but much to increase costs that certainly will be passed on to consumers.

There's another prime motive - government gaining control and grabbing wealth. The Congressional Budget Office estimates auctioning carbon credits will reap $1.9 trillion over the next decade with government skimming its share, while effectively picking winners and losers.

Then there's the economic cost for the rest of us, estimated by the Heritage Foundation to be as much as $4.8 trillion in inflation-adjusted dollars by 2030.

By couching the scheme as market-based, proponents camouflage its nature. S2191 would create a government-controlled system, permitting a few favored players to profit greatly at the expense of many others under the guise of encouraging "green" energy development.

The European Union imposed a cap-and-trade market in 2005 and is "handing out billions of dollars to chemical, coal and oil corporations and the developers of destructive dams - in many cases for projects they would have built anyway," the U.K. Guardian reported. The Guardian said two-thirds of supposed emission-reduction credits represent no real emission reduction, but at "a stunningly high cost."

Whether or not primary Senate sponsor Joseph Lieberman's bill can achieve its targeted, massive greenhouse-gas reductions is questionable. But even that would be only a tiny portion of worldwide CO2 emissions, considering booming economies in China and India where emission levels are expected to continue soaring.

Moreover, the global warming panic is based on ever-malleable, contrived computer models. To their embarrassment, even warming alarmists now concede that instead of the alleged inevitable, huge temperature increases, temperatures haven't increased for about 10 years and won't for another 10, proving what Cato Institute environmental studies fellow Patrick J. Michaels says: "(T)here is no verifiable science behind the current legislative hysteria."

Nevertheless, expect much grandstanding next week, as politicians of every stripe frantically seek the high moral ground of savior in an election year where the universal campaign promise is to "do something," irrespective of how foolish or damaging it may be.

We hope the public connects the dots between the hyped promises of relief from an uncertain problem and the real costs that will be imposed to profit a select few and to gain greater control over everyday life.

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