Cap-and-Trade is a Ball-and-Chain for Poor Americans

(Released Aug 2009)

As Congress considered the Waxman-Markey “cap-and-trade” bill, President Obama rallied House Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats at the White House. In making a point, he gestured to Abraham Lincoln’s portrait and said, “He had a chance to affect history. You, too, have a chance to affect history.”

How ironic.

Lincoln is remembered for liberating blacks from slavery. Cap-and-trade legislation supported by Obama, allied lawmakers and now the NAACP would, conversely, enslave all Americans.

Billed as a way to combat global warming, cap-and-trade legislation already passed by the House and now under consideration in the Senate is – at its most basic level – a tax that punishes those who rely on fossil fuels. That unfortunately means virtually every American.

Higher energy costs, higher unemployment and slower economic growth expected from cap-and-trade would reduce living standards, increase dependency and likely chain Americans to government programs.

Back in 2007, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported that “most of the cost of meeting a cap on [carbon dioxide] emissions would be borne by consumers, who would face persistently higher prices for products such as electricity and gasoline… [and] poorer households would bear a larger burden relative to their income than wealthier households would.”

That makes it particularly troubling when the NAACP, at their recent convention, jumped on the cap-and-trade bandwagon. Politicians are expected to be opportunistic, but a group founded to advance blacks should not promote energy policies preferentially harming those with the least.

Harry Alford, head of the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC), opposes cap-and-trade. Alford testified before the Senate about this, and made national news when he objected to California Senator Barbara Boxer’s attempt to place a premium on the NAACP’s opinion over the facts presented by the NBCC president.

A NBCC-commissioned study of cap-and-trade by CRA International finds new regulations would:

  • reduce national GDP roughly $350 billon below the baseline level;
  • cut net employment by 2.5 million jobs per year (even with new “green jobs”);
  • reduce earnings for the average U.S. worker by $390 per year.
  • Alford’s not alone. His skepticism is shared by a majority of blacks.

For example, 76 percent of blacks want Congress to make economic recovery – and not climate change – its top priority. This is a finding of a nationwide poll of blacks conducted for the National Center for Public Policy Research by Wilson Research Strategies.

Among other key findings:

  • 38 percent of blacks believe job losses from climate change legislation such as Waxman-Markey would be felt most strongly in the black community. Seven percent believe job losses would fall most on Hispanics and just two percent on whites;
  • 56 percent of blacks believe economic and quality of life concerns of the black community are not considered when addressing climate issues;
  • 52 percent of blacks don’t want to pay more for gasoline or electricity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 73 percent are unwilling to pay more than 50 cents more for a gallon of gas, and 76 percent are unwilling to pay more than $50 more per year for electricity.

Despite NAACP boosterism, it’s clear black America want a stable economy before any risky schemes with questionable environmental results are considered.

A new, punishing energy tax will be an economic burden for those least able to afford it. Coincidentally, these are the individuals Obama claims to want to help most. Additionally, if cap-and-trade passes, it would break Obama’s campaign pledge to not raise taxes on households earning less than $250,000 a year.

As slaves had no representation in early America, black Americans are now finding themselves adrift as the NAACP and President Obama promote cap-and-trade regulation. Emancipation from such regulation, however, is the change all Americans can believe in and benefit from.