A Republican congressman discusses energy policy, cap-and-trade, and President Obama’s spending plans.
Steve Scalise is a Republican in his first full term representing Louisiana’s First Congressional District, replacing now-Gov. Bobby Jindal. He is active in the debate over energy policy, particularly cap-and-trade.
TAS: With the recent defection of Arlen Specter to the Democratic Party, does the role of the Republican minority change? What institutional leverage do Republicans still have in Congress?
Congressman Scalise: Sen. Specter almost lost the Republican primary in 2004. His switch was purely a politically motivated decision on his part to try salvaging his re-election chances, which are still in jeopardy.
TAS: The sad passing of Jack Kemp reminds us that Republicans have previously come up with innovative policy ideas while in the minority — and those ideas haven’t always come from people in the leadership. What are some of the new ideas being formulated by today’s Republican minority?
Congressman Scalise: I have been working with many other Republicans to propose solutions that address many of our nation’s problems. We have proposed common-sense solutions rooted in the ideals of lower taxes, less government and more individual freedom. There is a growing group of core conservatives who have stood up against taxpayer-funded bailouts and reckless spending, while proposing fiscally responsible solutions to get our economy back on track, provide tax relief to families and small businesses and balance the federal budget.
TAS: What will the consequences be of the cap-and-trade energy plan being pushed by President Obama and congressional Democrats?
Congressman Scalise: President Obama is proposing a “cap and trade” energy tax that will raise utility costs on every American family to generate $646 billion in new taxes, while shipping millions of American jobs to foreign countries. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, the President’s bill will cost 3 – 4 million jobs that will be shipped to countries like China, India and Brazil.
According to Peter Orszag, the President’s own budget director, the average American family would pay about $1300 more in utility costs per year for a 15% reduction in CO2 emissions, which is significantly less than the cap sought in President Obama’s proposed budget. Orszag testified before Congress last year saying that price increases borne by consumers are essential to the success of their “cap and trade” energy tax.
Even President Obama has acknowledged that his “cap and trade” energy tax will lead to higher electricity prices when he said, “under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”
As a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over national energy policy, I will continue fighting to oppose bad policies that threaten our economy. Rather than a “cap and trade” scheme that will raise taxes on American families and ship millions of jobs overseas, we need to pass a comprehensive national energy policy that will further develop the technologies for renewable sources of energy like wind and solar, encourage more conservation, while also expanding our own natural resources including oil, natural gas, clean coal, and nuclear power.
TAS: How likely is this plan to pass in its current form?
Congressman Scalise: The more information Americans find out about the “cap and trade” energy tax, the more they don’t like this attempt to impose a national tax on energy while shipping millions of American jobs overseas. That’s why Chairman Waxman has refused to disclose many of the key details of the bill while using procedural tricks to deny the very transparency that they promised the American people. Even former Chairman Dingell (D-MI) said of “cap and trade,” “It’s a tax, and a great big one.” The American people are seeing more and more that President Obama’s “cap and trade” proposal is nothing short of an energy tax that will raise utility rates on all families while shipping millions of jobs overseas.
TAS: What would a Republican energy and environmental agenda look like?
Congressman Scalise: I joined with more than 40 House Republicans to introduce The American Energy Innovation Act that represents a fiscally responsible approach to reducing our dependence on Middle Eastern oil, producing more renewable alternative sources of energy, and putting more Americans to work by:
Promoting greater conservation and efficiency by providing incentives for reducing energy demand and creating a cleaner, more sustainable environment.
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