NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 6, 2009

Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) introduced draft legislation of a cap and trade bill with slightly more stringent near-term carbon reduction targets and Kerry's message was simple: The recession worked so well to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, let's keep it going.  Senators from both sides of the aisle expressed concerns about the target but Kerry argued since the recession gave us a head start on greenhouse gas reduction, we can kill the economy some more.

"Let me emphasize something very strongly as we begin this discussion. The United States has already this year alone achieved a 6 percent reduction in emissions simply because of the downturn in the economy, so we are effectively saying we need to go another 14 percent."

In other words, 10 percent unemployment is the new norm, says the Heritage Foundation: 

  • It took a year for the United States to reach 10 percent unemployment through the financial meltdown and the housing crisis.
  • If the trade off is a 6 percent reduction in emissions for a 3.5 percent reduction in unemployment in one year alone, we could get to a 20 percent reduction in carbon dioxide by October 2011 and push the unemployment rate to 18 percent.
  • On the bright side, we'd still be below Spain's 19.3 percent.

Make no mistake, this bill is a jobs destroyer, explains Heritage:

  • Despite attempts to market cap and trade as a "clean energy jobs" bill, net job losses approach 1.9 million in 2012 and could approach 2.5 million by 2035.
  • Particularly hit hard is the energy-intensive manufacturing sector, which according to the Heritage Foundation economists, would lose 1.4 million jobs by 2035.

For the record, you won't hear proponents of cap and trade calling it a "green" jobs bill anymore. That doesn't poll well.  It's "clean energy" jobs now, says Heritage:

  • Cap and trade will drive up energy prices so high to force people to use less energy.
  • Consumers will drive less, fly less and companies will pump out less CO2 because people will buy less. But people still need to drive their cars and turn on their lights.
  • All cap and trade does is force people to spend more to use less.
  • The trade off for reduced carbon dioxide emissions is reduced economic activity.

Source: Nick Loris, "John Kerry: If You Enjoyed This Year's Recession, Just Wait for Cap and Trade," Heritage Foundation, October 5, 2009.

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