Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Dear Senator Alexander, Hang tough.

Dear Senator Alexander,

I read in today’s Tennessean that TV ads would start airing today to pressure you to vote to scuttle the Lieberman-Warner Cap and Trade bill (Climate bill foes press senator). According to the article you, along with Republican Senator Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina and Democratic Senators Robert Byrd and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Max Baucas and Jon Tester of Montana were being targeted. The Club for Growth is spending a quarter of a million dollars for this ad campaign.

I admit, I myself have strong reservations about Cap and Trade legislation. In theory it should work but it is costly and hard to get right. The European Union did not get it right, and emission actually increased under the European Cap and Trade. Nevertheless, we should work on it and try to get it right. We should not give up until we see the final product.

I would much prefer we had a carbon tax but I guess we have no leader willing to advocate any “tax.” I think a carbon tax bill could be sold to the American people, if it was revenue neutral. The pitch could be that we are going to tax carbon emissions which we want less of, and that for every dollar generated by the carbon tax we will reduce the tax on income, which we want more of. Unfortunately, a Carbon Tax is not on the table and a Cap and Trade is.

In the Club for Growth ads they are going to allege that a Cap and Trade bill will impose massive new taxes, regulations, and wealth redistribution. Unfortunately, this is hard to deny. While it is not a tax per se, it mandates new cost to greenhouse-emitting industries and the cost will be passed on to consumers. The effect is the same as a tax. A new regulatory mechanism will have to be created to allocate and sell carbon credits and monitor compliance. The bill will drive up energy cost, just as would a carbon tax, so to help the poor deal with this higher cost, the bill contains a provision to lower taxes for the lower income. They also allege that it will harm the economy. As a conservative myself, I don’t like any of that.

Unfortunately, the things they say about a Cap and Trade bill are all true. Whether it is a Cap and Trade approach, a Carbon Tax, or a hodgepodge of Command and Control and Subsidize, solving the problem of global warming is going to be costly and painful. But, we must ask ourselves what is the alternative. If the science is to be believed, we are talking about more than some drowned Polar Bears. We are talking about the submersion of all low-lying coastal areas, increased refugees from low-lying areas and arid regions of the world, famine, wars, and massive mortality and economic losses. By the time the worst effects occur, it will be too late to reverse them. We cannot afford to do nothing. The real inconvenient truth is that we cannot solve the problem of global warming without considerable pain and cost.

Senator, it is going to take courage to stand firm and seek a solution to this most serious problem. I do not expect you to pledge to support the current bill. It needs a lot of work. Please, however, do not take it off the table. We must find a solution to this problem. Global warming may be as important of a challenge as World War II or the Cold War.

When the alternative is horrible to contemplate, we must do what needs to be done. To counter the Club of Growth and others who will come after you, you must be bold in addressing the seriousness of the problem we are facing and convince the public that there is no easy solution. There are no “ten easy things you can do to stop global warming”. To solve this problem is going to require real statesmen who are willing to risk their own political future in order to avert a worldwide crisis of terrible proportions.

Please be strong. Do the right thing. Don’t buckle. May God bless you and give you strength.

Rod Williams

CC: A Disgruntled Republican

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