Conventional wisdom suggests that times of high economic growth would be the most appropriate occasion to enact legislation that could be very expensive for American taxpayers.
That’s not the case for Democratic California Sen. Barbara Boxer. Boxer, who is the chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and advocating the Lieberman-Warner cap-and-trade legislation, said a “recession” is the best time to do it because it will bring us “hope.”
“[S]ome of our colleagues will say this: Why do this now? We are in a recession. Precisely because we are in a recession is why we should be doing this,” Boxer said on June 3 on the floor of the U.S. Senate. “This bill is the first thing that brings us hope.”
Boxer painted a doom-and-gloom scenario in her remarks from the floor. She warned that if action isn’t immediately taken by the Senate, we would see “desperate refugees throughout the world,” “droughts and floods worse than the ones we have seen,” and when refugees move to escape these calamities, we will see “wars develop in all parts of the world.”
But if Boxer was thinking current legislation to create energy restrictions for U.S. businesses would save the world, she is overestimating the legislation’s impact, according to a recent Heritage Foundation report.
“The Lieberman-Warner legislation promises extraordinary perils for the American economy, should it become law, all for very little change in global temperature ... perhaps even smaller than the .07 of a degree Celsius drop in temperature that many scientists expected from worldwide compliance with the Kyoto climate change accords,” William W. Beach, David Kreutzer, Ben Lieberman and Nick Loris wrote for The Heritage Foundation on May 20.
The economy isn’t in a technical recession yet (two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth), as Boxer said, and ironically the legislation could cause widespread economic devastation, according to Heritage.
The costs for such a miniscule impact on the climate that may result from Lieberman-Warner can be measured in U.S. income – losses in cumulative gross domestic product of at least $1.7 trillion, which could reach $4.8 trillion by 2030 (in inflation-adjusted dollars); losses of jobs exceeding 500,000 before 2030 and possibly approaching 1 million; and an increase of $467 per household annually in natural gas and electricity costs, according to the report.
Boxer’s office did not immediately respond to the Business & Media Institute’s inquiries about her statements that slower economic conditions are “the precise time to act” and that this legislation will “give us hope.”
In May, two leading GOP senators, Sens. James Inhofe (Okla.) and Jeff Sessions (Ala.), warned that gas prices could spike from $1.50 to as much as $5 a gallon if this legislation were passed into law.