Manhattan Moment: Obama Should Not Impose Cap-and-Trade through Regulation

By Furchtgott-Roth, DIana | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, May 30, 2014 | Go to article overview

Manhattan Moment: Obama Should Not Impose Cap-and-Trade through Regulation


Furchtgott-Roth, DIana, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


President Obama has called inequality "the defining challenge of our time." But on June 2 he will announce new "cap-and-trade" environmental regulations that will make the poor a lot poorer and the rich a little less rich.

Obama said in his January State of the Union Address: "Wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that's what I'm going to do."

But these steps without legislation will reduce opportunities for the poorest Americans. Those in the lowest fifth of the income distribution spend 24 percent of their income on energy, compared with 4 percent for those in the top fifth. Mr. Obama's new proposed cuts in carbon emissions, in the form of "cap-and-trade" proposals that were rejected by the Democratic House and Senate in the first two years of his presidency, will raise the cost of energy, particularly electricity, and hit the poor hardest.

Cuts in carbon emissions slow economic activity by raising the cost of electricity. Everyone wants cleaner air, but most people also want the security of employment that comes from industrial activity. Most would agree on the need to strike the right balance between the economy and the environment. The question is what is that balance.

In May 2010, when the country was debating the cap and trade plans proposed by Sens. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman and Reps. Ed Markey, and Henry Waxman, the Congressional Budget Office issued a report titled "How Policies to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions Could Affect Employment." It concluded that "job losses in the industries that shrink would lower employment more than job gains in other industries would increase employment, thereby raising the overall unemployment rate."

The CBO report shows that emissions reduction programs would cause job losses in coal mining, oil and gas extraction, gas utilities, and petroleum refining. In addition, workers' wages adjusted for inflation would be lower than otherwise because of the increase in prices due to a cap and trade program. …

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