Forget the Environment -- Dems Just Want You to Show Them the Money

By Phil KerpenPolicy Director, Americans for Prosperity

The central question in the debate over global warming and cap-and-trade has nothing to do with the environment or even with energy. It's all about one thing: revenue. Kudos to Republican leaders for taking a clear stand that they will oppose any global warming bill that raises federal taxes, but as long as Democrats refuse to make the same commitment, the global warming debate is about one thing: revenue.

The bottom line here is that under the Obama administration's plan money from ordinary energy consumers that will be taken out of their pockets to fund big government special interest spending programs in Washington and bailouts on Wall Street. That's why the White House put the expected revenue from its cap-and-trade plan into the budget to pay for its spending programs. That's why Harry Reid noted that the money that will come in from the cap-and-trade plan would be about that same amount that as what he'd like to spend on a government takeover of the health care system! And that's why proponents of cap-and-trade don't seem bothered by the fact that the program would have no discernible impact on global averages temperatures or any of the supposed impacts of global warming. It's all about the money.

That's where the NoClimateTax.compledge comes in. Through this Web site, thousands of activists have been asking members of Congress and state legislators to sign a pledge and make a firm written commitment not to use a global warming bill as a vehicle for raising revenue.

Last week Republican Leader John Boehner, Whip Eric Cantor, Conference Chairman Mike Pence, and Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Joe Barton all signed the NoClimateTax.compledge, which says:

"I, ___________, pledge to the taxpayers of the State of _____ and to the American people that I will oppose any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in federal government revenue."

In doing so they joined the leader of House conservatives, Republican Study Committee Chairman Tom Price, 20 other Republican members of Congress, and 112 state elected officials who had already signed the pledge.

As the number of signers grows, it will become more and more clear that members of Congress who are unwilling to sign are really more interested in raising federal revenues than addressing global warming.

By taking the pledge Republican leadership put the ball firmly in the court of House Democratic leadership. If Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer will make the same commitment to the American people that John Boehner and Eric Cantor have already made, then we can move forward with an honest debate about what, if anything, should be done about global warming without the possibility of a tax hike lurking in the background. If they refuse to sign, then we can simplify this whole debate to one question: do we want a big tax hike on energy?

As I've said before right here in the FOX Forum, the outcome of that debate isn't in much doubt, and that's even according to our friends over at, who recently told their members:

"If Republicans convince voters that clean energy legislation amounts to a new tax, Obama's plan is toast."

If Democrats want to save their faltering plan, they should sign the NoClimateTax.compledge and get to work on a bill that doesn't raise taxes.

Mr. Kerpen is director of policy for Americans for Prosperity. His web site is www.philkerpen.comand his free daily podcast is available here.