If you want to understand Assembly Bill 398, the “cap and trade” bill, just follow the money. As with most “juice” bills in the California Legislature, the negotiations go on behind closed doors where special interests decide who will pocket what piece of the new revenue stream.
Players include large corporations, unions, environmental groups, etc. As the capitol saying goes, “once the money is settled, everything is settled”. And it looks like the money is settled. Unfortunately, all of that money is eventually coming out of consumers’ pockets in the form of higher costs for energy and other goods and services.
This legislation is supported by a variety of special interests eager to please Gov. Jerry Brown and the Democrat leadership. They refer to it as a cap and trade “fee” (i.e.tax), but it is really just another tool for Brown and others to make consumers fund pet projects like the bullet train.
It’s no wonder California is not only one of the highest taxed state in the nation, but also holds the dubious honor of having one of the nation’s highest poverty rate.
I unequivocally support clean air, water – conservatives believe in protecting our natural resources. But Cap & Trade is a flawed system that foists additional needless burdens on businesses, that doesn’t make sense and doesn’t solve the problem.
Democrats have a two-thirds majority in each house of the Legislature and can pass any legislation they want – if they can agree on who gets what. When food fights break out, as has happened with AB 398, the special interests shepherding the bill through the legislature make overtures to the Republicans.
Instead of joining Democrats on these anti-consumer, anti-taxpayer issues, Republicans ought to be offering a strong alternative voice and make the state’s Democrat leadership further own these bad policies. That’s the job of the minority party. What is not the job of the minority party is to join the muggers.
Republican legislators who try to justify their support for cap and trade only demonstrate their irrelevance. As Republicans, our goal is not to cooperate with the Democrat leadership’s war on the middle class but instead to counter it, because our ideas about growth, jobs and family budget issues are better than their ideas.
Cap-and-trade is a hidden tax that consumers pay in price increases on a whole variety of products. Any legislator that doesn’t get that fact is placing more value on their relationship with special interests than on the people they were elected to represent.
Higher prices for energy mean fewer jobs. Small businesses ask why they should stay in a high-cost state like California when there are small business-friendly states that would welcome them.
Every time the liberal elite passes a tax, a fee or a regulation that raises consumer prices, people lose their jobs. Real people. Real jobs lost. I don’t want to cooperate with the politicians that are doing that, I want to replace them before even one more small business is forced to close its doors.
Apart from standing on firm Republican principled ground, I believe that the majority of regular Californians, including Democrats and Independents, want our party to stand up boldly as fiscal watchdogs. That’s our role. As the late esteemed columnist Robert Novak once said, “God made Republicans to oppose taxes”. There’s more than a grain of truth to that. After all, if Republicans won’t stand up for taxpayers and working families, who will?
John Cox is a San Diego businessman running for governor of California. He wrote this for The Mercury News.
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