Bozell Column: Hurricane Lieberman-Warner

June 3rd, 2008 5:34 PM

For conservatives who would like to think the whole government should be handed over to the liberals for a few years until the Reagan wing of the Republican Party can get its act together, a quick look at a monstrosity under consideration by Congress is in order. Liberal Democrats and "green" Republicans are proposing a massive reorganization of the American economy to fight so-called global warming. Worse yet, proponents of this bill are attempting to sell this eco-socialism as a "market-based" policy, and their allies in the national media are going along with the charade.

For decades now, the media have shoved down our throats the idea that Planet Earth is in grave peril of catastrophic global warming. Now that Washington’s elites feel confident that everyone from McCain to Obama agrees that doom is imminent, it’s time to push something they call "cap and trade." Put an emphasis on the "cap." That means that the federal government is aspiring to dictate for every individual and business in America the absolutely perfect level of carbon-dioxide emissions. Once the government mandates how much emission will be allowed, then it will allow the public to "trade" on the rights that remain.

The sponsors on this power grab are independent Sen. Joe Lieberman and the walking poster child for term limits, so-called Republican John Warner.

Remember the Hillary Clinton health-care plan of 1993? It’s deja-vu time. The media will sell this bill as an important solution that absolutely everyone who considers himself a responsible citizen will support. Virtually absent from the discussion will be the cost, both financial and in the loss of freedom. If either of these prices are covered, they will be vastly underestimated.

A Heritage Foundation analysis is sobering. If you think Katrina was an expensive proposition, consider that according to Heritage, the economic damage of the bill would equal the cost of "660 hurricanes – 35 per year – for two decades." Don’t expect that statement to make it on the evening news. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says Lieberman-Warner would effectively raise taxes on Americans by more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years. That won’t be a headline in USA Today, either.

Making assumptions that are not at all guaranteed (like a 150 percent increase in nuclear-power generation by 2050), the Environmental Protection Agency concluded that the Lieberman-Warner bill would result in annual reductions of U.S. gross domestic product ranging from $238 billion to $983 billion in 2030, and from roughly $1 trillion to more than $2.8 trillion in 2050. Gas prices would grow by $0.53 per gallon in 2030 to $1.40 per gallon in 2050; and electricity prices are projected to increase 44 percent in 2030 and 26 percent in 2050. You won’t find reports on CNN explaining this.

No, numbers like this won’t flow easily from liberal-media outlets because they undermine the argument. Instead there will be fluff, fluff and more fluff. On PBS’s NewsHour on June 2, anchorman Ray Suarez interviewed Sen. Lieberman and Sen. Lamar Alexander. He began with a giddy sentence: "The most significant legislative effort so far to tackle climate change began winding its way through Congress today."

Suarez asked Lieberman an opening softball: "How would your bill achieve near-term reductions in emissions and drastic cuts over the long haul?" Lieberman answered, predictably, that it would happen through a "market-based system." Suarez then turned to the Republican senator and applied pressure: "The words ‘market’ and ‘marketplace’ are usually music to Republicans’ ears. Do you think it will work?"

Alexander threw EPA numbers at the PBS anchor: "The first problem is, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which has analyzed it, it's a 53-cent gas tax increase per gallon on top of the nearly $4 we're paying today. Second problem with it is the 53 percent gas tax increase per gallon, according to the EPA, isn't enough of an increase to make much difference. And so it wouldn't reduce carbon. So it wouldn't reduce what it's said it would do." For his part, Lieberman laughably replied: "This Climate Security Act is probably the one best way to reduce the cost of gasoline or other energy in the years ahead."

Suarez, like most anchors, presumed this monstrous bill needs to be passed, by next year, if not this year. But Alexander underlined the crucial question the media will try to ignore: if created, how much will this massive government bureaucracy reduce the average global temperature?

Climatologist Patrick Michaels thinks it would have virtually no effect on the climate, an additional 0.013 degrees (Celsius) of "prevented" warming. That’s another little bitty fact that will never see the light of day on most press reports. Instead what we’ll get is the usual hot air, except this time it has the price tag of 660 hurricanes.