Earlier this week, we noted Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) efforts to push a gas-tax hike as part of a deal for expanded domestic drilling and nuclear power plants — and passage of the cap-and-trade bill this year. Stuart Varney asked Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) about the chances of this tactic working, especially considering the numerical advantage of Democrats in the upper chamber the rest of this session. Inhofe scoffed, saying that less than half of the Democrats will back the radical, expensive proposal from Barbara Boxer and John Kerry:
Stuart Varney, Host of Varney and Co.: Now that gas tax story we left with yesterday. A small, bi-partisan group of Senators is considering up to a 15 cent per gallon extra gas tax as part of a new climate bill. Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma joins the company to weigh in on that. Senator, thanks so much for joining us.
Senator Inhofe: Hey, Stuart. It’s good to be back with you.
Stuart Varney: You too, sir. We know that you don’t like this idea, but I put it to you – there’s 59 Democrats in the Senate and 1 Republican, Lindsey Graham, who are going to vote for this. Can you beat it?
Senator Inhofe: Oh, yeah, we can. I can assure you of this. What they’re trying to do right now is the same thing they did, Stuart, during the government run health care thing on Christmas Eve. Everything behind closed doors, no committee consideration. And quite frankly, this is just another cap-and-trade. You and I have talked about this before, and the numbers of people who are willing to vote for the largest tax increase in the history of America are diminishing the closer you get to an election. So, it’s not going to happen. What we’re looking at right now, I heard you mention the 15 cent gas tax to support this some kind of cap-and-trade, that just isn’t going to happen. Right now, there’s an effort to increase the gas tax for roads and highways and bridges – that’s what it is really there for. So, that isn’t going to happen. But, a Harvard professor did a study, and Stuart you probably saw this, they said if we want to meet the requirements of the Obama Administration – that is a 17% reduction in emissions by 2020 – you better used to $7.00 a gallon for gasoline. That’s not going to happen, I assure you.
Stuart Varney: I’m just thinking that 59 Democrats will be in lock-step on this, plus Lindsey Graham, that’s 60 votes in the Senate. But you’re saying that you can beat that, you can beat this thing down.
Senator Inhofe: I know we can beat it. Because the issue is not the gas tax increase, it’s cap-and-trade. This is another cap-and-trade. We went through the McCain-Lieberman bill of ’03, the McCain-Lieberman of ’05, the Warner-Lieberman of ’08, the Waxman bill…all those, just about the same amount. It would constitute an increase of about 300 billion dollars a year, which is, you know, we’re just not going to do it. I can assure you, I don’t think they have more than 25 votes on the Democrats’ side, and if you throw Lindsey Graham in there that would be 26 votes.
Stuart Varney: Senator, would you stay there for a second, I’ve got my colleague Charles Payne, he is a keynote speaker at a Tea Party rally in Richmond, Virginia today, and he’s got a question for you Senator. Go ahead Charles.
Charles Payne: Hi, Senator. There’s also beyond cap-and-trade the notion of Americans driving these electric cars. There’s an article in the Journal today – automakers aren’t going to go to the President and say if you want us to sell a million of these cars you’re going to have to do more to make it happen. In other words, you’re going to have to really find a way to force the public into these, and the only way I can think is higher gas prices. That’s the only way a lot of people down here in Richmond, Virginia, are going to give up their Ford 150s and buy these small electric cars.
Senator Inhofe: Well, that’s not going to happen. You keep those guys down there on focus, because … I know the Tea Party people because I’ve talked to several of their large groups – they don’t want to pass the largest tax increase in the history of America, they’ve already had to swallow this government run health care which we’ll become a majority and we’ll reverse that and turn that thing around.
Stuart Varney: , I know Charles Payne real well and believe me, he’ll be playing that theme tonight at his speech in Richmond, Virginia. Senator Inhofe, thank you so much for joining us.
Senator Inhofe: That’s great Charles. Thank you, Stuart.