May 26, 2009 | Commentary on Energy and Environment
Memorial Day is here, a time to commemorate Americans who died serving our nation. Maybe Americans should also pause to commemorate the end of free-market capitalism and the beginning of a new form of economics -- Obamanomics.
The president's economic decisions often seem characterized by a desire to use the government to force private enterprise to ignore free-market supply-and-demand pressures.
Last week, Obamanomics reared its ugly head again. The president announced fuel efficiency and emissions standards for cars and trucks, which are expected to cost the average American $1,300 per vehicle. White House Energy and Climate Director Carol Browner called the initiative "truly historic" and "long overdue."
According to the White House, the program "ultimately requires an average fuel economy standard of 35.5 mpg in 2016." The New York Times declared that the "biggest winner could be the atmosphere." Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said, "This is good news for all of us who have fought long and hard to reduce global warming pollution, create clean energy jobs, and reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil." Yet these lefties seem more concerned about the environment than they are about the economic plight of American autoworkers and individuals who want to buy American cars.
It's ironic that President Obama has poured taxpayer money into massive bailouts of two carmakers, yet intends to force all carmakers to manufacture products that are more expensive and less popular with consumers.
As Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) pointed out on CNBC, the federal government is far too involved in our economy. First, it's "taking over the banks, then the auto industry, the oil industry, now they are dictating standards as to how cars will be built," Inhofe said. He also argued that President Obama has made a decision that should have been left to elected members of Congress.
Maybe somebody at the White House should ponder why American consumers shouldn't be free to decide whether they want to purchase a dangerous, mini hybrid car or a safer, family-friendly sport utility vehicle.
Who's Representing Who?
Last week the House Energy and Commerce Committee conducted a marathon markup of Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey's (D-Mass.) bill to impose a national energy tax.
Proponents of energy taxes claim that if the United States passes this type of legislation, the emerging markets of China and India will follow America's lead and enact laws to reduce their own so called "greenhouse gas" emissions. That seems unlikely, to say the least.
Unfortunately, liberals in the House rejected common-sense amendments aimed at addressing some reasonable concerns. For example, an amendment by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) that would have required China and India to provide some evidence of following America's lead before the U.S. embarked on an economically crippling energy tax policy was rejected.
Another amendment by Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) that would have repealed the whole idea of a national energy tax if gasoline prices topped $5 per gallon was also rejected. Not every amendment was shot down, though. Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) managed to secure a grant program for electric utilities to plant trees. She's got it made in the shade, apparently.
According to a recent Heritage Foundation analysis, the Waxman-Markey energy tax bill would cost a family of four $4,000 per year and increase unemployment by nearly 2 million people in 2012. Any purported gains in so called "Green Jobs" would be offset by the termination of Americans currently working in jobs that produce carbon.
Committee Members, who are now home for the Memorial Day recess, should have an interesting time explaining to families why they will have to pay much more for energy and may lose their jobs so the United States can reduce carbon emissions -- even though scientific experts admit that doing so would have a negligible effect on global temperatures.
Jeers to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D-Calif.) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for proposing legislation and supporting the efforts of the State Department to provide benefits> to same-sex partners of U.S. diplomats stationed overseas. The federal government doesn't recognize same-sex marriage; therefore these two politicians have no business using foreign diplomats to fight a proxy war against traditional marriage.
Brian Darling is director of U.S. Senate Relations at The Heritage Foundation
First Appeared in Human Events