June 26 2009

Policy Brief #21: Can American Families Really Afford Cap-and-Trade?

Amy Watson

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Download Policy Brief #21 below.

Executive Summary

During President Obama's run for the Presidency, he promised voters that he would actively pursue instituting a cap-and-trade program in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Congress has promised to have a cap-and-trade bill ready for consideration by May of this year, and the President's budget projections anticipate a healthy stream of revenue over the next ten years from a cap-and-trade scheme.

Although a detailed plan has not been presented to the American public, statements previously made by the President indicate he will support an aggressive cap-and-trade program that would heavily penalize energy use in the U.S. Such a plan would have a significant impact on our economy, slowing economic growth, raising the cost of energy and everyday goods, and reducing job creation. Despite his promise to not raise taxes on families earning less than $250,000 during the campaign, costs from a cap-and-trade program are essentially a carbon tax and will most heavily impact lower-wage earners.

The public should be aware of these costs as lawmakers' debate cap-and-trade legislation. The science of global warming is far from settled-a growing number of scientists question if recent warming trends have been related to the increase in carbon in the atmosphere. Others note that temperatures have not risen in a decade and believe we could be entering a cooling era. Given this reality, and with our economy already in a precarious state, Congress should not move forward with a cap-and-trade system.

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