Years ago Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, wrote an essay arguing that successful government programs had to be simple, with minimal bureaucratic entaglements, to succeed. His models were social security in its original form and the mortgage interest deduction designed to encourage home ownership. Moynihan, a supporter of affirmative and expansionist government, was concerned to analyze what works and what fails.
A 1390-page bill is not simple and the bureaucratic structures it establishes are insanely complicated.
Nor is it the product of a rational process. No congressmammal could possibly have read it all the way through, much less understood it. Do you doubt me? Find yourself a volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica, any volume, and try to master its contents in a comparable period of time. The irrationality of the process is made plainer by the 300-page “managers’ amendment” added at 3:19 a.m. and enacted on the evening of the same day.
The frivolity and shallowness of the process is nicely illustrated by Rep. Michael Michaud’s decision. Thanks to Michelle Anderson we know that he had not made up his mind on June 25, but helped pass the mess the following evening after failing to read the amendment. Never mind, all he had to read was the provision on biomass which he advocated and was included in the amendment. That was the price he was paid for his vote.
The national press describes the arm-twisting, log-rolling, and pay-offs necessary to build the narrow majority needed for passage. We read that Rep. Kaptur, for example, got $3.5 billion in taxpayer money for renewable energy loans and economic development projects. Michaud’s statement following the vote boasts that Maine’s paper companies get “recognition” for their biomass projects.
Sounds to me as if he sold his vote for chump change. Of course, I don’t really know what our paper companies will stand to gain. Then, again, neither does Mike. His statement has nothing to say about how much we will pay. His campaign literature in 2010 won’t either. The more dimwitted voters will be left to assume that the whole mess is cost-free.
The legislation delegates enormous regulatory powers to a maze of bureaucratic entities who will grow the 1390 pages of legislation into tens of thousands of pages of regulations. Effective legislative oversight will not be remotely possible, even if we assume that Congress is interested in evaluating the policy effects of its acts. This is debatable. On the evidence, congressional committees are more likely to hold hearings on the unsanitary effects of expectorating tobacco juice onto baseball fields. Makes better TV.
We will be hearing from Michaud and Pingree, and possibly our senators as well in due course, about all the “green jobs” that will sprout up. Google “green jobs” right now and you will find 2,440,000 hits. Such joy!
According to the Office of Management and Budget the national government expects $650 million in revenues from selling carbon permits, of which $150 billion will go to create alternative energy sources. Sure, $150 billion will create green jobs. And the administration will claim that every green job that is created over the years to come will have been a result of its initiatives, as if there never would or could have been such employment without its leadership. I have no idea how many people will be stupid enough to fall for such claims, but I am absolutely certain that there will be no conceivable way to arrive at an accurate count.
The remaining $500 billion in revenue is slated for redistribution. Under a provision of the bill workers in oil, coal and other fossil-fuel sector jobs who lose their jobs will get a weekly paycheck for up to three years, subsidies to find new work and other benefits. Other billions will be paid out as tax “refunds” to people who don’t pay taxes.
The game is to raise taxes on energy producers who will have to pass the $500 billion cost along to customers, including those same people who will receive government checks. Result: a tax increase that will not be seen as a tax increase. Customer will blame the greedy corporations who raise their prices to pay for their permits. Perhaps I go too far in assuming that the corporations will not pass the hat around among their vice presidents and stockholders to raise the permit money, but I don’t think so.
Consider the job losses, acknowledged in the bill’s provisions although we will never hear about them from the congressmammals who voted for it. The conservative Heritage Foundation and the liberal Brookings Institute agree that there will be job losses. Brookings, uses four alternative scenarios, all of which arrive at significant unemployment totals, but attempts no regional breakdown.
Heritage estimates for the First District non-farm jobs lost in 2012: 3,527. Average non-farm job loss during 2012-2035: 2,491.
For the Second District: Non-farm job loss in 2012 3,848. Average non-farm job loss in 2012-2035: 2,718.
I merely quote the estimates. I have no authority to substantiate or criticize, but there will be job losses, the Obama administration assumes them. They will not be mentioned or acknowledged by our congressmammals. We will hear only about the green jobs, and never a word about the cost per job.
There is a silver lining—for the Chinese and Indians. There is no Chinese Clean Energy and Security Act, no Indian Clean Energy and Security Act. Both Heritage and Brookings assume a growing trade deficit.
Will we achieve energy independence? Wait and see.
Will this diminish global warming in any way. Absolutely no way to say for sure. There have been no predictions made about how this will affect the temperature. No hypotheses to test.
According to the direst predictions the bill will:
1. Reduce aggregate gross domestic product (GDP) by $9.6 trillion
2. Destroy an average of 1-3 million jobs, every year
3. Raise electricity rates 90 percent after adjusting for inflation
4. Raise inflation-adjusted gasoline prices by 74 percent
5. Raise residential natural gas prices by 55 percent
6. Raise an average family’s annual energy bill by $1,500 annually
7. Increase the federal debt by 26 percent, which is $29,150 per person.
Predictions will do in the absence of serious debate. Events decide the issue. If these figures are even approximately true, we will know.