Obama administration chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is telling senior White House advisers, as well as outside lobbyists and business leaders he has had contact with, that he will not allow the cap and trade plan put forward by Rep. Henry Waxman in late March to move very far along the legislative process.
Waxman, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, put forward a co-sponsored bill with Rep. Ed Markey that set specific policy markers that would reduce U.S. carbon emissions by 20% of their 2005 levels in 20 years. Waxman says he's only doing "what the scientists are telling us we must do."
Such a goal, as well as the cap-and-trade emissions credit system, is viewed as the kind of policy that could deepen U.S. economic troubles at a time when Democrats, particularly in the Senate, are looking to avoid any radical policies that could worsen their economic stewardship.
Emanuel has been attempting to calm concerns in the business community that the Obama White House has lost control over the House and Senate Democrat leadership, and he claims to have warned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that the Waxman-Markey bill cannot be allowed to reach the floor of the House for passage. As it stands, the bill would most likely stall.
"We don't want it to go even that far, because at that point it becomes obvious who is blocking the bill from moving forward," says a White House legislative liaison. "We don't want to anger those groups that have been with us on environmental issues, so we can't be too cute with this thing."
Waxman hasn't shown any interest in cooperating with the White House, but might be willing to cut a deal on cap and trade if the White House is willing to give him more of his policies on health-care reform.