A Free-Market Energy Blog

Committee Dems Reject Job Loss Cap (and what does this say about the party in power?)

By -- May 20, 2009

Yesterday, on a strict party-line vote (34 Nay, 21 Yea), Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee defeated Rep. Fred Upton’s (R-MI) amendment to protect workers from potential job losses due to the Waxman-Markey legislation.

Upton’s amendment is short and to the point:

After section 2, insert the following section and make the necessary conforming changes in the table of contents:


The Administrator [of EPA], in consultation with the Secretary of Labor, shall annually prepare and certify a report to Congress on the average national employment rate for the prior year. If the Administrator determines, in consultation with the Department of Labor, that the unemployment rate for the prior year meets or exceeds 15%, as a result of the implementation of this Act, the provisions of the Act shall cease to be effective.

For perspective, the unemployment rate in April was 8.9%. So under Upton’s amendment, the Act’s provisions would be suspended only if the unemployment rate were nearly double today’s rate, and only if the EPA Administrator, consulting with the Department of Labor, certifies that “implementation of this Act” was the cause.

It speaks volumes that Committee Democrats voted against this amendment. If they really believe that cap-and-trade is a net job creator, then they have nothing to fear from the amendment. Indeed, even if unemployment were to reach 15%, the Administrator would still have to determine that the Act was to blame. The odds of that happening are nil.

Every recession has multiple causes, and identifying the causes, much less quantifying their respective contributions, is an art, not a science, and a politicized art at that. With EPA on record stipulating that Waxman-Markey will cost the average American no more than a postage stamp per day, and with EPA’s powers over the U.S. economy dramatically expanded by the legislation, there is not a snowball’s chance in Hell that the Administrator would blame the Act for any increase in unemployment, however clear the linkage between the two might be.

Aside from partisan pique, I suspect Committee Democrats voted in lockstep against the amendment because they cannot admit, even in principle, that their cap-and-trade and renewable electricity schemes could harm the economy. In other words, they cannot admit what every candid observer knows to be the case–namely, that cap-and-trade and renewable energy mandates will raise energy prices, and that rising energy costs can reduce GDP and job creation.

Why should anyone trust anything else they have to say about energy policy and climate change?


I just received info on three other amendments designed to clarify or cap the costs of Waxman-Markey.

Committee Dems:

  • Defeated, by 35-19, Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s (R-TN) amendment requiring EPA to determine and disclose compliance costs on utility bills, at the fuel pump, food product labels, etc.
  • Defeated, by 31-24, Rep. Lee Terry’s (R-NB) amendment suspending the Act if the Administrator determines it results in gasoline prices exceeding $5 per gallon. Four Blue Dogs (Mike Ross of Arkansas, John Barrow of Georgia, Charlie Melancon of Louisiana, and Zachary Space of Ohio) voted for the amendment. 
  • Defeated, by 32-23, Rep. Roy Blunt’s (R-MO) amendment  suspending the Act if electricity prices increase more than 10% above 2009 rates. Rep. Space (D-OH) voted for the amendment. 


  1. Ed Reid  

    Looks like those who claim W-M compliance would be “cheap & easy” lack the courage of their “convictions”.


  2. jae  

    Many of the hypocritical liars will likely get bounced on their ear come the 2010 elections. They are screwing their constituents, plain and simple.


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