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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Administration Says Climate Change Bill Is Top Priority Over the Summer: Good Luck With That

Bill Burton, Obama's deputy press secretary, made the claim, while on a liberal talk show today, that passing climate change bill this summer in a priority for the Obama Administration:

Passing an energy bill will be President Barack Obama's top legislative priority this summer, White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton said Wednesday.

The president's main focus will shift to working toward a comprehensive energy bill once the Congress finishes up work on Wall Street reform, a process that is expected to conclude this month.

I would say that just in terms of timing, obviously, financial regulatory reform, that goes first, Burton said during an appearance on the liberal Bill Press radio show when asked if energy would be the top legislative priority for the White House.

After we get through that, yes, Burton added.

Obama underscored the need for energy legislation Tuesday night during his Oval Office address, saying he's open to all approaches that would help transition the U.S. toward using renewable, clean energy sources.

This would seem to indicate that Obama would like to resurrect the cap-n-tax debate. The liberal Democratic leadership will definitely be tempted to push it this year, but the toxicity of the issue for those up for election will lead many Democrats in oil, gas, and coal states to balk at the mention of a tax that will cripple their state/districts' economies right before their constituents will decide their employment status for the next 2 or 6 years:

Does that mean cap-and-trade is dead?  It’s been pronounced dead on several occasions during the year, only to have Democratic leadership pledge to push forward this year.  They don’t have much choice; if the bill doesn’t get passed in this session of Congress, it will have to be reintroduced from scratch in the House next year.  As it is, the House will have to have at least one more vote on it to get it to Obama’s desk, probably in a conference committee, if the Senate passes its version. Next year, Democrats won’t have the votes to pass it, and in the House may not have control of the agenda to even get it to a vote.

That’s the conundrum, however.  Any Democrat in a competitive district foolish enough to vote for cap-and-trade in the final few months before the general election can assume that his legislative career will come to an end.  Many Democrats won’t be returning anyway, but they might believe a chance exists to avoid the tsunami coming in November if they can demonstrate some independence from Nancy Pelosi with a couple of late votes — and cap-and-trade would be an excellent target for strategic voting on their part.

While many believe that it won't happen this year, the same lawmakers believe that it might be possible next year:

Some Democratic lawmakers have raised concerns that voting on the climate plan could create a political backlash in the November elections.

“There’s not a great call for it in the Democratic caucus,” said West Virginia Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller, who has argued against taking up the bill. Feinstein said last week she believed climate legislation could be passed next year.

I believe that while Congress' jobs hang in the balance, there won't be anything more than a whisper about cap-and-trade. Although, if (I can't stress IF enough) Democrats retain their heavy advantage over the Republicans after November, then, we will see it brought up next year. However, the far more likely scenario is that Republicans will have heavy gains this year and possibly gain control of at least the House. This will make it basically impossible for cap-and-tax to go anywhere near a floor vote. As long as everything goes as it looks like it will now, we shouldn't have to worry about a carbon tax. Congress passing more safety regulations regarding off-shore drilling platforms seems far more likely and perhaps needed.

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