Obama cli­mate plan could cost $2 tril­lion

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY TOM LOBIANCO

Pres­i­dent Obama’s cli­mate plan could cost in­dus­try close to $2 tril­lion, nearly three times the White House’s ini­tial es­ti­mate of the so-called “cap-and-trade” leg­is­la­tion, ac­cord­ing to Se­nate staffers who were briefed by the White House.

A top eco­nomic aide to Mr. Obama told a group of Se­nate staffers last month that the pres­i­dent’s cli­mat­e­change plan would surely raise more than the $646 bil­lion over eight years the White House had es­ti­mated pub­licly, ac­cord­ing to a num­ber of staffers who at­tended the brief­ing Feb. 26.

“We all looked at each other like, ‘Wow, that’s a big num­ber,’ ” said a top Repub­li­can staffer who at­tended the meet­ing along with be­tween 50 and 60 other Demo­cratic and Repub­li­can con­gres­sional aides.

The plan seeks to re­duce pol­lu­tion by set­ting a limit on car­bon emis­sions and al- low­ing busi­nesses and groups to buy al­lowances, al­though ex­act de­tails have not been re­leased.

At the meet­ing, Ja­son Fur­man, a top Obama staffer, es­ti­mated that the pres­i­dent’s cap-and-trade pro­gram could cost up to three times as much as the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s early es­ti­mate of $646 bil­lion over eight years. A study of an ear­lier cap-and-trade bill co-spon­sored by Mr. Obama when he was a se­na­tor es­ti­mated the cost could top $366 bil­lion a year by 2015.

A White House of­fi­cial did not con­firm the large es­ti­mate, say­ing only that Obama aides pre­vi­ously had noted that the $646 bil­lion es­ti­mate was “con­ser­va­tive.”

“Any rev­enues in ex­cess of the es­ti­mate would be re­bated to vul­ner­a­ble con­sumers, com­mu­ni­ties and busi­nesses,” the of­fi­cial said.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has pro­posed us­ing the ma­jor­ity of the money gen­er­ated from a cap-and-trade plan to pay for its mid­dle- class tax cuts, while us­ing about $120 bil­lion to in­vest in re­new­able-en­ergy projects.

Mr. Obama and con­gres­sional Demo­cratic leaders have made pass­ing a cli­mat­e­change bill a top pri­or­ity. But Repub­li­can leaders and moderate to con­ser­va­tive Democrats have cau­tioned against levy­ing in­creased fees on busi­nesses while the econ­omy is still fal­ter­ing.

House Repub­li­can leaders blasted the costs in the new es­ti­mate.

“The last thing we need is a mas­sive tax in­crease in a re­ces­sion, but re­port­edly that’s what the White House is of­fer­ing: up to $1.9 tril­lion in tax hikes on ev­ery sin­gle Amer­i­can who drives a car, turns on a light switch or buys a prod­uct made in the United States,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Mi­nor­ity Leader John A. Boehner. “And since this en­ergy tax won’t af­fect man­u­fac­tur­ers in Mex­ico, In­dia and China, it will do noth­ing but drive Amer­i­can jobs over­seas.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The Capi­tol Power Plant heats and cools the hal­lowed halls of Congress. Pres­i­dent Obama’s cli­mate plan seeks to re­duce pol­lu­tion by set­ting a limit on car­bon emis­sions.

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