The Spectacle Blog

Disgraceful Display of the Day

By on 5.12.10 | 8:50AM

Today at 1:30 pm Eastern time Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) will host a press conference announcing the fifth Senate reinvention of "cap-and-trade" global warming legislation since 2003, the "American Power Act". Call it the American Power Grab Act, instead, for reasons that will become obvious momentarily.

The orchestrated spectacle, with a cast expected to be in the dozens which massive alignment of special interest groups is apparently supposed to persuade you of the justness of their cause, is in fact a manifestation of all that is wrong with Washington and what Americans have become increasingly enraged by.

At this press conference, Sens. Kerry and Lieberman have both already indicated, they will insist that their scheme isn't "cap-and-trade" because... they aren't going to use that term this time around. Kerry has even said that "this is not an environment bill." It seems that the public aren't buying that argument, either, so it's really about whatever appeals to you. Just not what it was about the previous four times they've tried to slip this Power Grab past you. Except that a summary of the bill makes plain it is, too, cap-and-trade. And worse. It includes billions of dollars each year in gas tax revenue to underwrite the wealth transfers these companies are so in favor of.

For this latest effort to hide an enormous tax and wealth transfer -- a unilateral move that guarantees jobs will be shipped to China, India, Philippines, Mexico and elsewhere -- -- these lawmakers will be surrounded by numerous representatives of Big Green. That includes not just the wealthy pressure group industry but many among "Big Business", numerous of whom are the benefactors enabling those pressure group chiefs' huge salaries and vast PR budgets to scare you into accepting an agenda that uses the state to, oddly enough, enrich these same companies. Huh.

Sen. Lieberman has repeatedly teased the breadth of today's organized scrum as proof that the scheme is now a good idea.  Absent from his cheerleading is the fact that you are not represented at the table when your wealth and future prospects were being divvied up.

The reason for so many businesses leaping onto the stage today is also the dog that surely will not bark when the media report on industry's touting of an enormous energy tax and wealth transfer from individuals: why do they support this?

The answer is because they have been promised a slice of the spoils taken from the average taxpayer and ratepayer. I detail who these companies are and how they hope to cash in on this scheme in my new book "Power Grab". For example, consider Exelon. This Chicago-based utility, which today is expected to be represented both individually by its CEO and by its trade association the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), expects more than one billion dollars in increased profits for no additional capital investment if the scheme announced today passes. Their only cost would have been the lobbyists.

That's just one company. But the windfall, arranged by politicians, comes from average American families. The company even admits the whole sordid mess in a Forbes article from earlier this year:

"Exelon needs that legislation to happen sooner rather than later. Without a carbon price of some sort, Exelon's fortunes aren't so bright.... 'The conundrums are real,' [Exelon CEO John] Rowe acknowledges. 'There's nothing that's going to drive Exelon's profit in the next couple of years wildly. It just isn't going to happen.'

Except, of course, carbon legislation. And because of that, the company views spending on lobbying for legislation almost like a capital expense....

Exelon has very deep ties to the Obama Administration. Frank M. Clark, who runs ComEd, helped advise Obama before he ran for President and is one of Obama's largest fundraisers. Obama's chief political strategist, David Axelrod, worked as a consultant to Exelon. Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, helped create Exelon. Emanuel was hired by Rowe to help broker the $8.2 billion deal between Unicom and Peco when Emanuel was at the investment bank Wasserstein Perella (now Dresdner Kleinwort). In his two-year career there Emanuel earned $16.2 million, according to congressional disclosures. His biggest deal was the Exelon merger."

The article details how Exelon wrote the provisions allocating the energy use "allowances", or ration coupons. Others, including (according to Sen. Kerry) BP, wrote the provisions applying to oil companies, to ensure costs are passed straight through to you.

I lay the particularly odious example of Exelon -- and those of others on the dais, ranging from Duke Energy to GE to "Chicago Climate Exchange" members -- bare in "Power Grab". Before your elected representatives impose this on you later this year, as soon as by the July 4 congressional recess, educate yourself on the rhetoric and ruses employed to part you from your money and, if history is any guide, threaten your family's lives and indeed your livelihood altogether.

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