Free Markets, Free People

Are Dems Overreaching On Climate Legislation

Kimberley Strassel has a good article in today’s WSJ about what she sees as Democrats overreaching on climate legislation.

For one, they seem to be misreading the public’s support for the radical type legislation that Nancy Pelosi and Henry Waxman favor. Since the recession has hit, people are much less concerned about the environmental impact of certain industries and much more concerned about preserving the jobs they provide.

But it is more than that – the Democratic leadership seems to be misreading the political tea-leaves as well:

To listen to Congressman Jim Matheson is something else. During opening statements, the Utah Democrat detailed 14 big problems he had with the bill, and told me later that if he hadn’t been limited to five minutes, “I might have had more.” Mr. Matheson is one of about 10 moderate committee Democrats who are less than thrilled with the Waxman climate extravaganza, and who may yet stymie one of Barack Obama’s signature issues. If so, the president can thank Democratic liberals, who are engaging in one of their first big cases of overreach.

Not that you couldn’t see this coming even last year, when Speaker Nancy Pelosi engineered her coup against former Energy chairman John Dingell. House greens had been boiling over the Michigan veteran’s cautious approach to climate-legislation. Mr. Dingell’s mistake was understanding that when it comes to energy legislation, the divides aren’t among parties, but among regions. Design a bill that socks it to all those manufacturing, oil-producing, coal-producing, coal-using states, and say goodbye to the very Democrats necessary to pass that bill.

Of course, that’s precisely what the Waxman’s of the party intend to do. As Strassel notes, Pelosi engineered the replacement of Dingell with Waxman precisely to push the more radical agenda.

And 2010 looms:

There’s Mr. Matheson, chair of the Blue Dog energy task force, who has made a political career championing energy diversity and his state’s fossil fuels, and who understands Utah is mostly reliant on coal for its electricity needs. He says he sees several ways this bill could result in a huge “income transfer” from his state to those less fossil-fuel dependent. Indiana Democrat Baron Hill has a similar problem; not only does his district rely on coal, it is home to coal miners. Rick Boucher, who represents the coal-fields of South Virginia, knows the feeling.

Or consider Texas’s Gene Green and Charles Gonzalez, or Louisiana’s Charlie Melancon, oil-patch Dems all, whose home-district refineries would be taxed from every which way by the bill. Mr. Dingell remains protective of his district’s struggling auto workers, which would be further incapacitated by the bill. Pennsylvania’s Mike Doyle won’t easily throw his home-state steel industry over a cliff.

Add in the fact that a number of these Democrats hail from districts that could just as easily be in Republicans’ hands. They aren’t eager to explain to their blue-collar constituents the costs of indulging Mrs. Pelosi’s San Francisco environmentalists. Remember 1993, when President Bill Clinton proposed an energy tax on BTUs? The House swallowed hard and passed the legislation, only to have Senate Democrats kill it; a year later, Newt Gingrich was in charge. With Senate Democrats already backing away from the Obama cap-and-trade plans, at least a few House Dems are reluctant to walk the plank.

Never mind that passage of this bill would most likely retard economic recovery for the foreseeable future, it might also begin to flip the House politically when its consequences are made clear to the public. Waxman and his allies are attempting to poltically arm-twist and bribe enough Democrats to push this through the House, but it apparently faces tough sledding in the Senate, even with a filibuster-proof majority in the offing.

How this ends up is anyone’s guess, but as strange as it sounds, the recession is our best friend in this case. Cap and trade would be disasterous now – not that it wouldn’t be even in a strong economy. And there seems to be building support on both sides to stop it. What you have to hope is that somehow it will then be delayed enough that the mix in Congress changes to the point that the Dem’s radical environmental policy ends up being DOA.


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10 Responses to Are Dems Overreaching On Climate Legislation

  • Unless of course, they’re assuming they can ram it through before 2010 and worry about the fallout later.  I think a lot on the left still feel residual sting from the Clinton years where despite 8 years holding the presidency, they failed to secure any truly major policy shifts to the left.  Many people have the attitude that 18 months filled with aggressive legislative gains trumps a longer period of lesser gains.

    • In terms of legislation, Clinton failed the left. Hillary Care failed, he did pass Brady and the ’94 crime bill (but the AWB went away in 2004 and Brady was reduced to an instant check IIRC), and before he was done he signed welfare reform and NAFTA.

  • Isn’t any climate legislation ‘overreaching’? 

    I don’t think the power to legislate the climate is anywhere in the Constitution. 

  • overreaching in the constitutional sense, and over reaching in the practical sense are two VERY different things. It seems to me that that very distinction provides the engine for much of this very blog…

  • What the Democrats do not understand (as if they ever understand anything simple) is that the polls are against them on this “climate change” fraud.
    Now, even a massive majority does not buy into Algore’s pile of mass horsecrappola. Climate change is a fraud…end of argument. And if the Democrats push it, and, as predicted, electric bills go up an average of $3,000 a family, the Democrats will lose control of everything, everywhere.

  • I’m waiting for more consumers to have the same problem I did.  This weekend my central air unit went out.  Turn out to be a blown cooling coil in the air handler.  This was when I learned about the ozone friendly phase-out of R22 which starts in January.  Even if I get my current equipment fixed (which is R22 only) then next time something breaks I’ll be lucky if they can fix it.  I might as well pay the big money now.

  • The Obama team is aware it has trouble, which explains last week’s well-timed Environmental Protection Agency “finding” that carbon is a danger. The administration is now using this as a stick to beat Congress to act, arguing that if it doesn’t the EPA will. (Reality: Any EPA actions will be tied up in court for years.)

    Well, I think she is unduly optimistic in dismissing the usefulness of the CAA as a club in this instance.  It is true that on several rules in the past that the EPA has been stymied in the Courts.  The 1985 Recycled Used Oil and the Woodtreater abominations in the early 90’s are both good examples of how the courts can be used to moderate USEPA regulations.  In fact, it looks like the new “Definition of Solid Waste” regs may be going the same route.

    Unfortunately, none of these decisions were made in a climate where there had already been a Supreme Court decision that pretty much freaking requires the EPA to regulate.  Massachusetts vs. EPA will be a huge hurdle for anyone attempting to legally challenge any CAA regulations on greenhouse gases promulgated by the EPA.

  • Green is the new Red. It’s pure methane myth.

  • Are the Dems overreaching on climate legislation?

    How about, have they got their arm up everyone’s a$$ past the elbow yet?

  • “In terms of legislation, Clinton failed the left. Hillary Care failed, he did pass Brady and the ‘94 crime bill (but the AWB went away in 2004 and Brady was reduced to an instant check IIRC), and before he was done he signed welfare reform and NAFTA.”

    Which was precisely my point.  To the left, the last time they had any major power on the national level, they dropped the ball big time.  This time they’re determined to make use of whatever time they have, even if that time is relatively short.  Hence, their more aggressive legislative attitude this go round.