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A national energy tax is not the solution to the American energy crisis

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By Congressman Bob Goodlatte

As the summer months quickly approach and families start to plan vacations, our country continues to struggle with high energy costs.  Unfortunately, Congressman Henry Waxman, Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and other Democrats in Congress are strongly pushing legislation which implements a cap and trade system or more accurately: cap and tax.  The simple truth behind the Waxman energy plan is that it raises taxes, kills jobs and will lead to more government intrusion.

The cap and tax proposal is really a $624 billion national energy tax that will hit nearly every American family.  This new national energy tax will be paid by anyone who turns on a light switch or plugs in an appliance.  It is estimated that the Waxman legislation will raise electricity rates 90% after adjusting for inflation, gas prices 74%, and natural gas prices 55%.  A study that considered a similar proposal estimated that this type of proposal could cost every American household roughly $3,100.

Also disappointing is the fact that the Waxman cap and tax plan will hit the poor the hardest.  On average, the nation’s working poor spend approximately 13 to 30 percent of their yearly income on energy costs.  This average is already too high, and sadly this legislation will only dramatically increase the amount of money these workers will have to spend on energy costs.  So while every American will be paying more for energy, low income households already living on the edge of desperation will be hurt even more.

The impact of this national energy tax will not only be seen in home utility bills or at the gas pump, but various estimates suggest anywhere from 1.8 million to 7 million Americans could lose their jobs as well.  Proponents of the cap and tax proposal claim that the legislation will create “green jobs”. While I support the creation of “green jobs”, any new jobs created by this reckless energy policy will not come close to compensating for those that will be lost.  We have no greater example of the devastation a cap and tax system can have on an economy than in Spain.  After years of promoting “green jobs” Spain has the highest unemployment rate in Europe, standing at a whopping 17.5 percent.

Congress should never put hard working families in a position where they have to decide between paying for food and paying their electric bill.  There are always better solutions than fewer jobs, more taxes and more government.  I support an “all of the above” energy solution that produces American energy made by American workers, encourages greater efficiency, conservation and promotes the use of alternative fuels.  Despite Henry Waxman and the Democrats’ best efforts to raise taxes, increase government regulation and keep much of our nation’s valuable natural resources under lock and key, I intend to continue working for energy solutions that put the American people first.