Will Cap-and-Trade Cripple U.S. Production?

This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," June 26, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GLENN BECK, HOST: Cap-and-trade might not only hurt American competitiveness, but also, do the exact opposite of what it sets out to do. According to the EPA — EPA, the policy may, quote, "cause domestic production to shift abroad."

Why would that happen? When those companies take their businesses overseas, they're going to will wind up in countries, most likely, without cap-and-trade rules because they can make their products cheaper there. That will actually increase greenhouse emissions.

Columbia University professor, David Buckner, is here to explain.

Video: Watch Beck's interview

Hi, David.


BECK: Well, I'm good. I don't think I could design a taking down of this country any better than the people — if I were an enemy of this country, I don't think I could design anything like this.

BUCKNER: You slide it in on a Friday, would you?

BECK: Yes, I am.

BUCKNER: You slide in on a Friday night so it doesn't hit the news cycle until Monday. And the reality of it is...

BECK: Not even that, you go on vacation — they go on vacation after this. So, they're gone for a week, so they won't feel the public wrath, and next week is a holiday.

BUCKNER: Yes. What they don't recognize here is that we're not seeing the full picture. On the one side, they're saying that prices have to be inherently increased so that will be an incentive to not produce products. On the other side, they're saying it's not going to cost us anything.

How can you have — the very thrust of this legislation is based upon the fact that you're going to raise prices so that people won't produce and create greenhouse emissions. On the flip side of it, they're saying, "But it won't cost you anything." It can't be, if it doesn't cost anything, it loses the thrust of the legislation.

And so, the arguments on both sides are intellectually and economically dishonest.

BECK: So, I have — I have to tell you, the — it's not an environmental plan. It can't be.

BUCKNER: No. We don't know whether it can ever resolve that. And not only that, for America to say we can solve the global changes...

BECK: Well, the president said that we have to act first, that we — that China and India — we can't go to, where is it, Copenhagen in December, and we can't convince them to do it. Why?

BUCKNER: So, we're going to take the cost on us, is what he's saying. And everyone will follow. They won't.

Here's what they'll do. You saw when our labor costs went up. We increased minimum wage. Labor unions exercise their right to petition for greater salaries and they got them. What happened? Labor left America; it went to India and China.

India and China aren't raising their labor costs. They're not running around going, "You're right, we need to give more money to our people." They're going to take the markets.

There is no way in which the increase in costs in America will ever remain — will keep us productive and keep us competitive. It will shift our production overseas. This is an exportation of labor.

BECK: If I — if I look at this — I mean, this is from the governor of Virginia, talked about this and he said, "Well, we just — we have to get this passed as a nation, but we could never pass it just as a state, because that would hurt us competitively and we'd lose business here." I mean...

BUCKNER: How does it work for the federal, too? But how does it work nationwide if it doesn't...


BUCKNER: Because it's going to be — well, it's actually saying for these states that it wouldn't work independently, we're going to shift — it's a redistribution. So, the ones that get hurt, oh, we're going to even it out across the country.

BECK: David, how long does it take — I mean, you know — I mean, I don't know if you are as pessimistic as I am. I mean, I think we are witnessing the destruction of our country. I really do. I don't — I don't know if it's in two months, two years or 20 years, but we are seeing unsustainable ideas happening here.

BUCKNER: We are seeing the cannibalization of capitalism. I agree with that. We are seeing policies in five months that have cannibalized five corporations and brought them underneath the umbrella of one government — which I never would have imagined in a capitalist environment in America we would see.

We are seeing — even these environmental bills with no science and no way to pay for them — fully validated. There is not economic honesty in the dialogue. That's what concerns me.

And it's not just about politics. It is the economics of it. Tell me how you're going to raise the cost of something such that people will be dissuaded from producing and not cost anything on the other side. The thrust of the argument is the increase in talks.

BECK: So, David, I had people call the radio show today and this language really scares me, quite honestly. People are saying, "Glenn, how is this not treason?" I don't know how to answer that other than treason is a whole different thing. It's very specific in the Constitution, et cetera, et cetera.

But you're either a moron or you're just so greedy for power or whatever you — these people are destroying capitalism. How do you turn this around?

BUCKNER: As a lawyer, I could make the case that they believe that the unified purpose of which a politburo or a committee makes decisions, under the planned argument that you just heard, is better than individuals having to decide for themselves.


BECK: Which is not — that goes against our republic.

BUCKNER: Agree. It goes against everything that the founders established. It goes against everything that we have created. I get that, but they believe it. They believe that in this modernistic approach...

BECK: Wait. But America doesn't.


BECK: America, you are not red. I'm sorry. You are not red. You might be green but you aren't red. We're not all socialists.

David, thank you very much.

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