Last week, word leaked out of the Beltway that Card Check would get punted from the 2009 calendar because of the difficulties Democrats had encountered on health-care reform and energy policy. Now Politico reports that cap-and-trade will be off the agenda as well. The arm-twisting required for ObamaCare means that the White House will have no political capital for any other fights that could split the party:
With the fight over health care reform absorbing all the bandwidth on Capitol Hill, Democrats fear a major climate change bill may be left on the cutting-room floor this year.
A handful of key senators on climate change are almost guaranteed to be tied up well into the fall on health care. Democrats from the Midwest and the South are resistant to a cap-and-trade proposal. And few if any Republicans are jumping in to help push a global warming and energy initiative.
As a result, many Democrats fear the lack of political will and the congressional calendar will conspire to punt climate change into next year.
“The reality is [the health reform bill] is going to happen before cap and trade,” said House Agriculture Committee Chairman Rep. Collin Peterson, who’s been working with farm-state senators on the climate legislation. “Who knows if it will ever come out of the Senate?”
Who, indeed? In fact, cap-and-trade is a bigger political problem than health-care reform. A handful of Republican Senators would like to help craft a health-care reform package that doesn’t result in government crowding out private insurance, and it presents no particular regional political issues. Despite this, Democrats remain at odds with each other as Obama and his allies press for radical changes that have little support back home.
On cap-and-trade, Rust Belt Democrats will have a hard time supporting the demolition of their economies back home while trying to keep their seats. Robert Byrd has already announced his opposition, and more will follow suit once this comes to the floor. The Obama administration will have to fight Democrats again to get this passed, and with health-care reform an already massively expensive proposition, they may not have the stomach for a loss.
That means, for all practical purposes, it won’t get considered at all. No one will want to propose the kind of fee increases a cap-and-trade system means in an election year. By 2011, Republicans will have made gains in the House and Senate, thanks to a series of overreaches and failures from Obama and Congressional leadership, and Democrats won’t have the votes to move them. If they don’t get back on the 2009 agenda, they’re likely dead.