VIEWPOINT: Time comes to cap and trade this bad idea
BISMARCK -- Virtually every elected official from Bismarck to Washington expresses deep concern about the loss of jobs and the need to jump-start our economy. After all, the national unemployment rate sits at about 10 percent, and lots of job cre...
BISMARCK -- Virtually every elected official from Bismarck to Washington expresses deep concern about the loss of jobs and the need to jump-start our economy. After all, the national unemployment rate sits at about 10 percent, and lots of job creation and economic proposals -- some good, others bad -- will appear on state and federal legislative agendas in coming weeks.
Whatever comes out of Washington, however, will require North Dakota's congressional delegation to prioritize its efforts to meet the specific needs of workers and families back here at home. In doing so, they should oppose the energy-rationing cap-and-trade bill that passed the U.S. House last year (and soon will come before the Senate).
They also should move on to more viable efforts that will help, not hurt, North Dakota small businesses, employers, workers and families.
Supporters of cap and trade claim that such a program -- which is built upon massive energy taxes and cumbersome rationing mechanisms -- will create jobs and reduce carbon emissions with little, if any, economic impact. But from businesses big and small to workers and their families, an overwhelming majority clearly disagrees.
In fact, our organization released a survey last week showing that North Dakota voters are greatly concerned about the impact that a cap-and-trade system would have on jobs, energy prices and economic growth. Key findings of the North Dakota survey include:
n 61 percent of voters oppose a federal cap-and-trade system, while 32 percent are in favor of such a system.
n 46 percent of voters believe a federal cap-and-trade system would lead to more job losses, while 22 percent believe it would have no effect, and 22 percent believe it would create jobs.
n 60 percent of voters believe a federal cap-and-trade system would increase energy costs, while 16 percent say it would have no effect, and only 13 percent believe it would lower costs.
n 50 percent of voters believe a federal cap-and-trade system will limit economic growth, while 20 percent say it will have no effect, and 20 percent believe it will increase growth.
This survey follows on the heels of two national polls released late last month gauging opinions of small businesses and voters across the U.S.
Small business owners, our nation's engine of job creation, expressed similar skepticism about employment claims, with 69 percent believing that a cap-and-trade system won't create a single job (14 percent did not know, and 17 percent believed jobs would be created).
Furthermore, nearly 60 percent believe energy prices will rise if cap and trade becomes law.
Given that small businesses create 60 percent to 80 percent of all new jobs, their perspective surely should carry some weight. Accordingly, does anyone really believe massive new energy taxes that will cause more job losses and increase energy costs for businesses and families alike should be at the top of Congress' priority list?
In addition to NFIB, many other organizations responsible for creating jobs have come out against cap and trade. The arguments against are both sobering and compelling. For example, the National Association of Manufacturers estimates that cap-and-trade legislation will destroy 2.4 million jobs and reduce gross domestic product by as much as $3.1 trillion. The American Farm Bureau, likewise, just voted unanimously to oppose cap-and-trade legislation.
Their opposition is well-founded because the evidence shows that cap and trade won't work in any case. In European countries operating under cap-and-trade systems, unemployment rates have gone up while the supposed reductions in carbon emissions have not materialized. That's even with the decreased economic output that's resulted from the continuing global recession.
Major developing economies in China and India -- whose energy use is increasing exponentially -- have said no to similar cap-and-trade-like systems that would restrain their economies. And without these nations on board, even sweeping actions here in the U.S. literally would have no beneficial effect on the planet.
It's what we in the small business community call a "high-cost, low-impact" scenario. And it's the type of scenario we try to avoid.
Given cap and trade's potential for destroying jobs and hurting the economy, it's pretty clear that Congress needs to seriously rethink its legislative priorities. The people have spoken: Cap and trade is the last thing North Dakota needs right now.
Staiger is North Dakota state director for the National Federation of Independent Business.