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View related content: Energy and the Environment
The Obama White House has spent the week furiously working to convince its fellow Democrats in Congress to support the global warming bill that’s before the House today. Former Vice President Al Gore has been working the phones, and there was even a luau at the White House last night.
The question that must be asked, however, is why? If the case is closed on man’s role in causing climate change, as the left assure us that it is, then why the need to twist Democratic arms to do something about it?
My guess is it has something to do with 2+2=4.
This simple arithmetic–2+2=4–was a rallying cry during the Polish Solidarity freedom movement in the 1980s. It meant that, even though the government would try to tell the people that 2+2=5, to be free, the people had to tell the truth, that 2+2=4. Because to deny the truth was to deny reality, and to do that was to surrender freedom to the government.
Something similar is happening with the global warming bill.
The sponsors of the global warming bill, which is known as Waxman-Markey, are telling Americans that not only will the legislation save us from calamitous climate change, it will also produce new jobs and new prosperity by transitioning America to new forms of “green” energy.
In other words, under Waxman-Markey, there’s no trade-off necessary to save the planet; no price to be paid. It’s a win-win-win.
Right. And 2+2=5.
The reality is that the bill before the House today imposes what could be the largest tax increase in history on the American people. And every single one of us who heats a home, drives a car, and manufactures or consumes products made in America will pay the price.
Estimates are that the Waxman-Markey bill will raise electricity prices by an astounding 90 percent. It will raise gasoline prices by 74 percent. It will raise the average American family’s energy bill by $1,500 each year.
And, far from creating jobs, experts predict that the global warming bill will destroy 1,105,000 jobs on average each year, with peak years seeing unemployment rise by over 2,479,000 jobs.
All in all, the bill is expected to reduce our gross domestic production (GDP) by $9.6 trillion. And for what?
Even if–if–the legislation works exactly as it is intended (a rare feat in Washington), in about 100 years the Earth’s temperature will be one tenth of one degree Celsius lower than the United Nations predicts it will otherwise be.
The largest tax increase in history for a one-tenth of one degree temperature decline? No wonder the Obama Administration is working overtime on Capitol Hill.
The bill’s sponsors are also assuring us that if America unilaterally imposes these new energy costs on itself, countries like China and India will be convinced to do the same by the overwhelming power of our example.
This is another 2+2=5 message. The American people know that the authoritarians who rule China won’t be shamed into harming their own economy by the United States doing so first. It doesn’t matter how many times Al Gore and Nancy Pelosi repeat it.
I’m a conservative who deeply believes we have a moral, economic and patriotic duty to protect our environment. I’ve written a book about green conservatism. I’ve even appeared in a commercial about the environment with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
But I don’t believe we can protect our environment with job-killing higher taxes and growth-stifling government regulation.
Innovation and incentives have made America great. They are what will keep us great and protect our environment.
But instead of rewarding innovation, this bill punishes Americans into living lives that the government wants them to live. Instead of recognizing that our energy problems are the result of politician who won’t let us develop domestic sources of energy, this bill punishes Americans for the faults of politicians and bureaucrats.
Instead of opening up America’s vast resources of oil, natural gas, and coal, this bill guarantees that American will remain reliant on foreign dictators if we want to continue to drive cars, heat our homes and run our appliances.
I believe in protecting our environment. I just don’t believe that 2+2=5. Neither, I suspect, do my fellow Americans whose representatives are voting on Capitol Hill today.
Newt Gingrich is a senior fellow at AEI.
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