Robert Byrd, Cap-and-Trade and the Lame Duck

With the passing of West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, the defining narrative among politicos will -- after a few hours' decorum -- emerge as does Byrd = Kennedy? That is to say that, while so many West Virginians would never vote against Byrd, now that he's gone there are plenty of the same Blue State voters who would vote against a non-Byrd Democrat in this Age of Obama.

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I don't follow West Virginia politics closely but assume their version of Scott Brown would be Rep. Shelley Moore Capito. His or her identity, as well as whether the same phenomenon would play out, likely depend on if the election is held this fall, vs. 2012: there are some murky legal issues to sort through involving how long a placeholder would hold the seat. Still I'm pretty sure it will be someone staunchly anti-cap-and-trade (in both parties, in fact; the last West Virginia politician to show insufficient zeal against the scheme, Rep. Alan Mollohan (D), recently lost in a primary).

Cap-and-trade of course is the vehicle by which the president vowed to cause your electricity prices to "necessarily skyrocket" as part of his effort to "bankrupt" the coal industry and anyone who sought to continue burning coal for that one-half of our electricity that it provides. Incidentally, today's Wall Street Journal also notes how Obama's anti-coal jihad just cost about 1,000 jobs in Wisconsin; West Virginia needs no such reminders yet as they pile up they also cannot help but be relevant.



How strongly West Virginia can inveigh, through its congressional representation, against this cruel ideological push is of increasing importance right now. Democrat staff are increasingly bold in their discussion of suckering Republicans into helping them pass it in a lame duck session, without having to vote on it in the Senate until after the elections.

The vehicle for said suckering is a "must-pass" Gulf spill bill -- not that what is being proposed would have done anything to prevent the latest disaster of a company, BP, that like Enron lost the plot and fell apart as a result, any more than the financial services "reform" would have prevented the Fannie- and Freddie-precipitated meltdown.

From today's E&E Daily story (subscription required):

What Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) puts in the Senate climate and energy bill, and what gets added on the floor, may not matter as much as simply whether some bill passes.


In the end, a joint House-Senate conference committee will likely hammer out the final version of the bill. That might not take place until a "lame duck" session after the November election, when much of the political pressure on lawmakers has dissipated.


Which means that despite the oft-repeated assertion by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) that "cap and trade is dead," the House's bill based on cap and trade could be back in play -- someday, given the right conditions. Even if they do not enact cap and trade, Democratic leaders could use a conference to ratchet up the climate regultions [sic] past what the Senate agreed to and beyond what Democratic House centrists want.


"We have a lot of wiggle room in conference," said a House Democratic aide.


And it could be hard for centrists in either party or either chamber to walk away from the bill if they have taken the risk of voting for it on initial passage.


"Once you get to conference, it's an up-or-down vote," said Norm Ornstein, a veteran congressional expert at the American Enterprise Institute. "People who vote against it have to explain why they voted for it before they voted against it."



That lame duck strategy is little more brazen than the Democrats' efforts to cram-down the health care takeover. Indeed, not only will embittered losers have nothing else left to lose given the elections will be behind them. Worse, given that many Dems will be out of jobs by that point, they actually will be in a bidding war for ambassadorships or other sinecures by doing Obama a solid and seizing the ever-closing Obama Window to "fundamentally transform America".

So the Dems think the Senate will pass a "Gulf spill" bill, the prospect of any vote against which they Dems are already styling as a vote for BP and Big Oil (they don't say how). Then this will be merged with the House "energy" bill which was the 1,400 page monstrosity bearing cap-and-trade, among other odious delights of the Left.

It seems unlikely that Sen. Byrd would smile on this abuse of the rules of our representative democracy, but there you have it. His party will be against BP before they are for it...BP having invented carbon cap-and-trade with Enron, aggressively lobbying until this very day for the payoff it is designed to provide them.

The only issue is whether the Republicans are absorbing the message: the Dems are digging a political pit and layering its top with rhetorical palm fronds, certain that the Republicans will stumble into the "must do 'something'!" trap and pass a "Gulf spill bill", with every sentient being knowing full well this is the Senate Dems' ticket to a cap-and-trade, lame duck conference. And enactment of their last remaining high profile Power Grab.

Sadly, neither history nor the utterances of one Senate Republican to date provide any succor that they are on to the game.

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