On Friday, the House passed the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act which, among other things, would institute a cap-and-trade system to curb U.S. carbon emissions that contribute to man-made climate change. The Senate is set to consider the legislation in the fall, but a number of Republican senators have declared the legislation dead on arrival. In an interview this morning with conservative talker Mike Broomhead on Pheonix, AZ’s Newstalk 550 KFYI, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) echoed their sentiments. He smeared the ACES legislation as a “cap-and-tax” program motivated by the Obama administration’s desire to pay for things like “banks and the world’s largest insurance company”:
MCCAIN: In its present form, which is cap-and-tax. … It’s really terrible, because I believe that climate change is real, I believe it is something that we need to address, and I’m sure that a lot of Americans do, but to do so with a bill like this? … What [the Obama administration is] doing is using cap-and-trade…to raise billions of dollars so they can spend money on Cash for Clunkers, you know, buying General Motors and Banks and the world’s largest insurance company. … So it started on the wrong path and now it’s just turned into, you know, it’s laws and sausages at its worst in my view.
Asked whether he thought ACES would get through the Senate and the U.S. would “end up with cap-and-trade,” McCain lamented, “Look, elections have consequences.” McCain said further that Americans didn’t support ACES, calling it a “far-left” agenda item. Listen here:
While resistance to ACES among Senate Republicans isn’t surprising, McCain’s apparent disdain for the legislation certainly is. During the campaign, McCain laid out a plan to reduce U.S. carbon emissions that included a cap-and-trade component. Describing his plan in May 2008, McCain said, “A cap-and-trade policy will send a signal that will be heard and welcomed all across the American economy.” In June 2008, he said, “I have proposed a new system of cap-and-trade that over time will change the dynamic of our energy economy.” What was that McCain said about elections having consequences? It seems Congress would likely be considering a cap-and-trade system today even if McCain had won the election last fall.
More to the point, however, McCain’s principle substantive objection to early versions of ACES — that it would have auctioned 100 percent of the initial emission permits — has been addressed. The version that passed the House on Friday allows for 85 percent of the emission permits to be distributed free of charge for a “prolonged transition period.”
Finally, McCain is simply wrong to claim that the American people are not supportive of legislation like ACES. According to a Washington Post-ABC Poll, 75 percent of respondents said they supported government regulation of green house gas emissions, and 80 percent of those respondents said the government should do so even if it raised the cost of goods. As for their support for a cap-and-trade system, in particular, 52 percent of respondents favored it while just 42 percent said they opposed it.