The Spectacle Blog

Global warming tax still evolving

By on 2.26.09 | 3:30PM

It seems that all is not well in the land of green make believe. The enormous "global warming" tax is, upon scrutiny, something of a moving target as well as faslely advertised.

For example, environmental trade e-zine Greenwire reports:

"The climate program would generate nearly $650 billion between 2012 and 2019, according to Obama's proposal. About $80 billion of the climate revenues would go toward Obama's proposed middle-class tax cut each year beginning in 2012, the draft says, and the government would spend $15 billion per year on 'clean' energy technologies."

Possibly you spotted the fuzzy green math: $650 billion taken in over 8 years, used in part to fund $640 billion over the same period to help ease the pain it causes, and the . . . er, remaining . . . $120 billion going for green pork, leaving us a balance of minus $110 billion.

My colleague Iain Murray looked a little closer and found that, according to the table from the budget preview, they are claiming that only $525 billion is targeted for the new welfare payment Obama calls a tax cut (approx. $52 billion a year, not $80 billion). With the $120 billion for green pork to major lobbying parties like GE (windmills, among other items) that still leaves them $5 billion short, by this calculation. That used to be considered real money, yet is a relatively trifling amount in this context.

This paints a picture rather different than those one floated earlier of raising energy prices and rebating a portion while paying down debt - instead it's simply a new vehicle to raise revenue to pay for a permanent new welfare entitlement. Again, that is until the scheme succeeds in "bankrupt[ing]" its targets, as then-candidate Obama vowed was the purpose.

Each of the nasty little peanuts hiding under every one of the shells in this game are vastly more expensive - and given the welfare/entitlement angle, surely more politically explosive if the media do their job (kidding!) - than the Clinton-Gore run at pricing energy out of your reach. With CPAC going on just as this audacity is floated, the grab could either gain some traction in the public discourse or get lost in the mix. We'll soon find out which.

The good news is that some Senate Democrats at least have objected to using the filibuster-proof budget process as a vehicle for the actual statutory changes required to enact the tax/rationing scheme, as opposed to merely assuming its revenues. Remember, the 1993 BTU tax was floated the very same way, and killed in the very same process.

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