Obama's Assault on the Middle Class

By Ferrara, Peter | The American Spectator, May 2009 | Go to article overview

Obama's Assault on the Middle Class


Ferrara, Peter, The American Spectator


IN A BARE, CANDID MOMENT during last year's campaign, Barack Obama said,

We can't drive our SUVs, and eat whatever we want, and keep our homes at 72 all the time, whether we live in the desert or the tundra, and keep consuming 25% of the world's resources with just 4% of the world's population, and expect the rest of the world to say you just go ahead. We'll be fine. That's not leadership. That's not going to happen.

This extremism is alive and well today as the foundation for Obama's global warming policies.

The theory of global warming is that use of fossil fuels such as oil, gasoline, coal, and natural gas (the foundation of the Industrial Revolution) is increasing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (C02). This increased C02 is allegedly trapping heat in the atmosphere through a greenhouse effect, which will allegedly cause the earth's temperatures to rise to catastrophic levels. In the Spectator's March issue, I showed that as a matter of science this theory is not valid, drawing on proven data and arguments from top scientists around the world. Nevertheless, governments and the UN fiercely cling to global warming theory because it justifies massively increased power for them, including potentially world government powers for the UN. This is why global warming theory has become a religion for the worldwide left, including environmental extremists, who see in it the potential for achieving their dream of repealing the Industrial Revolution. In other words, global warming is about politics and power, not science.

Cap and Tax

WE CAN SEE THIS IN THE Obama administration, which is using global warming to justify a massive "cap and trade" tax on the American economy. Under this policy, every business involving C02 emissions will have to buy permits from the government for the amount of such emissions, which will be sold in open auctions, where the permit price will be bid up. But the government will limit the number of these permits, and consequently the maximum amount of CO2 emissions allowed. Indeed, over time the government will clamp down on the amount of CO2 emissions allowed by the permits, with the emissions to be reduced by 80 percent by 2050.

As the emissions allowed are phased down in the face of a growing economy, the price of the permits will soar. Consumers, of course, will bear these extra costs. Indeed, that is how cap and trade is supposed to work. The expectation is that consumers, when faced with higher costs for products whose production or use involves CO2 emissions, will shift to other products involving little or no emissions.

The Obama administration itself estimates that cap and trade will involve increased costs from 2012 to 2019 alone of $645 billion, and admits in its own budget that the actual costs could be much higher than that, depending on permit prices over those years. Indeed, other estimates put the costs three times higher. So the increased burden on each American over this period alone would be $2,100 to $6,300. For a family with two children, that would be $8,400 to $25,200, with much more to come after 2019.

These increased costs are effectively a new tax on the American people, even though Obama promised in his campaign that there would be no tax increase for the bottom 95 percent of income earners. As former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said in his CPAC speech earlier this year:

[L]et me get this straight, we are not going to raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000 per year, unless you use electricity. And we are not going to raise taxes on anyone under $250,000 per year, unless you buy gasoline... [or] unless you buy heating oil...[or] unless you use natural gas.... And I thought to myself how dumb do they think we are that they can pretend that an energy tax is not an energy tax and...that every retired American who uses electricity is not going to pay it, and every person in New Hampshire who uses heating oil is not going to pay it, and every person who drives a car isn't going to pay it. …

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