Harry and Nancy's Last Stand
Think cap and trade is dead? Think again: Politico's Mike Allen reports that Obama and the Democratic congressional leadership have a plan, a continuation and deepening of the disregard for the American public they so amply demonstrated through the process by which they passed the despised HCR bill:
Phil Schiliro, the White House congressional liaison, has told the Senate to aim to take up an energy bill the week of July 12, after the July 4 break (and after the scheduled final passage of Wall Street reform). Kagan confirmation will follow, ahead of the summer break, scheduled to begin Aug. 9. The plan is to conference the new Senate bill with the already-passed House bill IN A LAME-DUCK SESSION AFTER THE ELECTION, so House members don't have to take another tough vote ahead of midterms.
The rest of the piece goes on to make it clear that this plan has the full support of President Obama, who himself does not face re-election until 2012 and wants cap and trade passed before the year is out.
This "fierce urgency of now" comes from the obvious political consideration that a lame duck Congress has nothing to lose. Once it's been thrown under the bus and lies there bleeding (actually, you might say it threw itself in front of the bus, but let's not quibble about the finer points), it might just as well enact a piece of legislation that will further bankrupt the country and please the left fringe and nobody else. Beware a group that's still in power but has stopped fearing any consequences from the public.
This strategy has the same odor that stank up the final stages of health care reform.
Actually, the stink is much stronger. At least with HCR, the representatives in the House and a third of the Senate knew they would have to face the voters in 2010. If Republicans win control during that election, and then the present Democratic Congress takes up and passes the hugely unpopular cap and trade between November's election and January's swearing in, nearly all pretense of accountability will be gone, and whatever might still remain of Obama's affable "let us reason together" disguise will have been vaporized as he is fully revealed for the arrogant and cold-blooded power-hungry operator he always has been.
To many people, the congressional Democrats' contempt for the public's wishes came as somewhat of a surprise when the HCR bill was first being pondered, and especially when the push was renewed despite the election of Scott Brown. After all, politicians are usually more interested in self-preservation than that. But by the time the bill had become law, we had learned a great deal more about how the Democrats had morphed into an overbearing majority (that phrase comes from Federalist Paper #10, written by the prescient James Madison), determined to pass their agenda and thwart the will of the people because yes, they could.
Back in mid-April, I wrote this piece for the Weekly Standard on that very topic. The following bears repeating now:
[The process of passing HCR] revealed a president and a congressional leadership that in concert have shown more callous contempt than any in history for the will of the American people, the safeguards against the tyranny of the majority built into the Constitution, and the parliamentary rules by which Congress operates. And there’s every indication that, if need be, the same will be true of cap and trade, immigration reform, or whatever else Obama, Pelosi, and Reid may deem the next morsel they plan to cram down the recalcitrant throat of the American public.
It is this stench of tyranny on the part of Congress that is very new and very noticeable, even to ordinary Americans who usually don’t pay a particle of attention to the arcane rules of the House and Senate
Obama may try to freshen it up and disguise the smell with an overlay of perfumed talk. But, like those little pine tree air fresheners that hang in cars, or the sprays people spritz into a stinky room, it fools no one. It only serves to add an additional nasty odor on top of the first, so that we now have two smells instead of one.
But the Democrats do not appear to be so concerned with fooling people any more. They are concerned with enacting their own agenda, and if the people don’t like it, let them just try and stop them. Madison described the process rather more elegantly:
Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may, by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests, of the people.
Whether this effort will ultimately be successful depends on how many members of Congress are willing to demonstrate some sort of integrity come that fateful lame duck period of November through January (this entire scenario assumes, of course, that Republicans are granted control as a result of the November elections; otherwise, the present Congress will not be a lame duck, and such haste will not be required). And, since a version of the cap and trade bill was already passed by the House almost exactly a year ago, all that needs to happen is for the Senate to pass the same bill, or some version that can be reconciled by whatever hook or crook the leadership deems possible and necessary.
Not only is the bill unsupported by the majority of the American public, but the conclusions of researchers that provide its main empirical rationale have become more dubious since the House voted for cap and trade back in June of 2009. In the interim, Climategate has reared its ugly head. But scientists such as MIT’s Richard S. Lindzen have also increasingly made a separate case that the science behind predictions of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming is hardly the settled and self-evident truth that politically driven proponents would have us believe.
If the unpopular cap and trade bill is passed by the Senate and ultimately manages to become law, and with Obama continuing as president until at least 2012, he can veto any repeal that a Republican-controlled Congress might attempt, assuming (as is likely) that Republicans will lack enough votes for an override. If all of this pans out in such a manner, it will be very interesting to see whether any Democrats in the Senate who are up for re-election in 2012 will activate their own remaining instincts for self-preservation and vote with Republicans to override the president's veto.