Deficit peacocks like Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Sen. John McCain are behind President Barack Obama’s call for a multi-year spending freeze on “non-security discretionary spending.” But these same politicians who want to impose austerity measures on a struggling economy have opposed plans which would cut the deficit while strengthening the economy. My colleague Igor Volsky has explained how stalled health care reform — while dramatically expanding coverage and saving people’s lives — would also cut the deficit. As it turns out, President Obama’s signature push to limit global warming pollution is also a deficit-slashing measure:
The Congressional Budget Office — the arbiter of the federal budget impact of all legislation — just released an analysis that the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, S. 1733, “would reduce budget deficits (or increase future surpluses) by about $21 billion over the 2010–2019 period… In years after 2019, direct spending would be less than the net revenues attributable to the legislation in each of the 10-year periods following 2019. Therefore, CBO estimates that enacting S. 1733 would not increase the deficit in any of the four 10-year periods following 2019.”
The Kerry-Boxer Clean Energy Jobs Act itself is limited in its deficit and jobs impact, because it gives 70 percent of pollution credits — worth $625 billion — away for free in the first decade. We can get faster clean energy reform and a bigger deficit impact by restoring Obama’s original budget plan for a full auction of pollution credits, so that industries pay the American taxpayer for the privilege of polluting our air. These increased revenues would hasten job creation, clean energy investment, and the clean up of the deficits created by George W. Bush.
Congress is blocking not only health care reform but also clean energy legislation that would clean the air, create millions of green jobs, and eliminate our dependence on Middle Eastern oil.
Instead, we get a spending freeze as the planet burns.