When even Dick Durbin (D-IL) says that Senate Democrats have to be “realistic” about their energy policy in light of a struggling economy, it means that Barbara Boxer and John Kerry had better get used to disappointment.  Battered by a health-care overhaul debate that will almost certainly return to them next month, some Senate Democrats have warned leadership that they will not support a cap-and-trade bill in this economy (via Geoff A):

Bruised by the health care debate and worried about what 2010 will bring, moderate Senate Democrats are urging the White House to give up now on any effort to pass a cap-and-trade bill next year.

“I am communicating that in every way I know how,” says Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), one of at least half a dozen Democrats who’ve told the White House or their own leaders that it’s time to jettison the centerpiece of their party’s plan to curb global warming. …

“We need to deal with the phenomena of global warming, but I think it’s very difficult in the kind of economic circumstances we have right now,” said Indiana Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh, who called passage of any economy-wide cap and trade “unlikely.” …

“I’d just as soon see that set aside until we work through the economy,” said Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).  “What we don’t want to do is have anything get in the way of working to resolve the problems with the economy.”

“Climate change in an election year has very poor prospects,” added Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.). “I’ve told that to the leadership.”

Of course, Harry Reid knew that when he rescheduled the Boxer-Kerry effort for spring 2010.  He didn’t have much choice.  After all, he hadn’t passed a health-care bill in any form by Thanksgiving, which meant he needed all of his available floor time for ObamaCare anyway.  Anyone watching the economic indicators also realized that Democrats would have to make a “hard pivot” on jobs and the economy at the first of the year if they wanted to have any chance of holding onto Congress in the midterms.

The very last thing the American economy needs is a new set of massive taxes on energy production.  Energy costs are multipliers in the distribution chain, and price hikes would cause prices to escalate rapidly on almost every product for sale in the US.  We would have runaway inflation at the same time we would have either negative or anemic growth, hardly a combination that wins elections for the party in power. And that doesn’t take into account the regional electoral issues in states that rely on coal for their economies — states like Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Arkansas, and Ohio, who have Democrats representing them in the Senate … for now.

Cap-and-trade is dead, at least for 2010, unless the Cultural Ministers for Corruption Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid can find more ways to bribe Democratic Senators into committing career suicide.  I wouldn’t necessarily dismiss that possibility.