Nightmare on Main Street, in which we think about some really big numbers
"One of the great follies in legislative history." That's how John Hinderaker at Powerline describes the bait-and-switch -- I mean the cap and trade -- bill that is due to be voted on in the House of, er, Representatives imminently.
As with the 1000-page non-stimulating stimulus bill that Obama shoved down your throat mere days after he assumed office, this bill will go largely unread by the people you elected to (among other things) oversee the country's finances responsibly. Let me mention that bill's sponsors, Henry A. Waxman and Edward J. Markey, are up for re-election in 2010, something the readers in California and Massachusetts will want to think about when they wake up to what the bill would mean to them. (Note to readers: don't forget about ThrowTheBumsOut.Org.) As Hinderaker points out, if enacted, the Waxman-Markey climate confusion bill would "create a convoluted federal bureaucracy that would control key sectors of the economy and of our lives."
Hinderaker posts this informative graphic created by Minority Leader John Boehner, showing in schematic format some of the mischief that would follow in the wake of this piece of expensive legislative folly.
I said "expensive legislative folly." The Wall Street Journal has something to say about both the folly and the expense. The folly:
The whole point of cap and trade is to hike the price of electricity and gas so that Americans will use less. These higher prices will show up not just in electricity bills or at the gas station but in every manufactured good, from food to cars. Consumers will cut back on spending, which in turn will cut back on production, which results in fewer jobs created or higher unemployment. Some companies will instead move their operations overseas, with the same result.
Really, this bill should be called the decapitate and strangle bill, because what it would do is systematically hobble the U.S. economy by starving it of affordable energy. Why? Because of a misplaced faith in the virtue of using less energy. It's a version of spiritual smugness like that emitted by eastern yogi, health nuts, and other graminivorous bipeds who believe that the extent of their asceticism is a reliable index of their enlightenment.
Waxman cites a misleading number from a preliminary analysis conducted by the Congressional Budget Office estimating that the bill would cost the average household a mere $175 a year. Cheap to save the planet and give yourself a daily pat on the back, what? But as the Journal points out the real cost is likely to be $1,870 a year for a family of 4 in 2010, a figure that rises to $6,800 by 2035 as various restrictions take effect.