Farewell to Henry Waxman, maker of bad laws

In the heady days of Hope & Change in early 2009, Waxman mostly kept busy working with Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., crafting one of the most convoluted, porked-up, ineffective boondoggles in the history of Congress: the American Clean Energy and Security Act, also known as “Waxman-Markey.”

How ugly was the sausage-making here? By the time Waxman-Markey passed the House, the bill had the endorsement of coal giant AEP, while Greenpeace was lobbying against it.

“On climate change,” General Electric executive John Rice wrote to his colleagues in 2009, “we were able to work closely with key authors of … Waxman-Markey.” Rice said Waxman-Markey spelled profits for GE.

Corporate America loved the law because it gave them free money. Waxman’s bill created greenhouse-gas emissions permits. Former White House Budget Director Peter Orszag testified in 2009, “If you didn’t auction the permits, it would represent the largest corporate welfare program that has ever been enacted in the history of the United States.” Waxman’s bill didn’t auction the permits. Instead, it would have given away 85 percent of the permits for free to coal-fired power plants, manufacturers and other businesses.

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