No Cap on Congressional Overreach

As always, insightful commentary from Kim Strassel of the Wall Street Journal today looking at the excesses of Congress, in this case on global warming and cap-and-trade. In “Global Warming Overreach,” Strassel describes the resistence of House Democrats, Blue Dogs and others from energy and manufacturing states, to the coastalists, Chairmen Waxman and Markey.

Cap and trade was already going to be a brawl, but the two upped the ante by including tougher targets and restrictions. If that weren’t enough, they rolled in every other item on the green wish list: a renewable electricity standard; a low-carbon fuel standard; a broader renewable fuels policy; new efficiency standards. Any one of these is a monumental fight on its own. Put together they risk an intra-party committee mutiny.

The political risks are great for the Administration and Congressional Democrats, both.

The Obama team is aware it has trouble, which explains last week’s well-timed Environmental Protection Agency “finding” that carbon is a danger. The administration is now using this as a stick to beat Congress to act, arguing that if it doesn’t the EPA will. (Reality: Any EPA actions will be tied up in court for years.) It also helps explain EPA’s Monday analysis claiming the legislation won’t cost all that much. (Reality: The agency could only make this claim by assuming an endless recession.)

The real risk to the president is that his bill goes down at the hands of his own party — with nary a Republican to blame. Whether Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Waxman considered this as they crafted their gem is unclear. But the overreach has made it a possibility now.

Meanwhile, Chairman Waxman continues to work on a cap-and-trade bill based on sound science political favors. From The Examiner, “To get votes, Waxman offers cap-and-trade breaks.”

P.S. The Journal also editorializes, “Reckless ‘Endangerment‘”: “President Obama’s global warming agenda has been losing support in Congress, but why let an irritant like democratic consent interfere with saving the world? So last Friday the Environmental Protection Agency decided to put a gun to the head of Congress and play cap-and-trade roulette with the U.S. economy.”

And with the American people, too.

P.P.S. Both Strassel and the editorialists evoke the more balanced approach of former House Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell (D-MI). NAM President John Engler also talked about Dingell’s perspective on cap-and-trade during an interview this week on the Hugh Hewitt radio show. See transcript.

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