A Little Irony in the Cap and Trade Debate

Wed, 22 Jul 2009 02:23:38 +0000

Writing in The American, Lee Lane points out some of the irony in the way the Republicans have been criticizing cap-and-trade proposals:

President Obama and his allies are promoting a tool for GHG control that is distinctly more costly than a simple carbon tax. Yet most Republican congressmen and conservative pundits, instead of pointing out that a tax would be a far better option, are hard at work trying wrongly to convince voters that the current plan is a tax.

He also points out some of the political issues surrounding climate legislation, particularly committee assignments and jurisdiction:

The organization of the Congress is the source of part of the explanation. The congressional committees with jurisdiction over pollution control are not the ones that write taxes. And these committees have little interest in transferring jurisdiction to the tax-writing committees.

After all, by dint of their committee assignments, members increase their ability to influence the kinds of choices that fall within that panel’s purview. Committee jurisdictions are, in effect, franchises. With a share of the franchise a member receives an opportunity for making electoral “profit” within that committee’s “territory.” For any given member, part of the art of getting reelected is to match his committee assignments with his main constituent interests.

Read the whole thing.