Washington, D.C., - U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., ranking Republican on the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, made the following statement during today’s hearing titled, “Reinvigorating the Economy through Stimulus Legislation: Opportunities for All:”
“I am happy that the committee has been reauthorized and that we will be working on this issue in the next two years.
“Despite having more than 50 hearings in the last Congress, the Select Committee never fully examined how legislative proposals to address global warming will truly affect the American economy.
“I think that we’re all for creating jobs; green jobs, brown jobs, purple jobs, any kinds of jobs. I think we also have to recognize there are consequences to whatever we do. If a rising tide is to lift all boats, it shouldn’t be up to the Congress or the federal government to pick winners and losers.
“We live in a market economy; it is the market that will pick the winners and losers. We should not deprive people of their right to earn a living and support their family and to have a comfortable and acceptable lifestyle, simply because they happen to be on the political incorrect side of today’s equation.
“We’re going to have to look at what trade-offs results from what we are dealing with here and what we are thinking of dealing with here. I looked at the stimulus proposal as something that can be either very good or very bad, not in between. Let me say that we hear from our friends on the other side of the aisle that this is all good and nothing is bad at all. I want to put a couple of things on the table.
“First of all, if all of this money is borrowed, we’re going to have to pay it back sometime. We’re borrowing money in many cases from people who do not share our interests and values, like China and OPEC.
“Secondly, we have to look at what happened in Japan in the decade of the 1990s, where they had stimulus packages that were almost entirely public works oriented. There were more jobs created while the money was being spent building new bullet train line or a new freeway or new buildings or whatever, but as soon as that federal or financial government money ran out in Japan, then they were right back where they started. Most Japanese call the decade of the 90s the lost decade. We Americans cannot afford to repeat that, and I’m afraid we may be going down that road.
“Finally, in terms of the whole issue of cap-and-tax, that’s what I call cap-and-trade because the carbon credits that have to be bought are really a tax, we’ve got to be careful that the business we’re trying to help -- the segments of the economy that we’re trying to help with a stimulus package -- don’t end up having to pay on the other end what we’re trying to give them on one end.
“For example, the concrete industry has a huge carbon footprint. Making concrete is probably more carbon emission intensive than driving your car between here and Philadelphia and back, and if we think we are creating jobs by improving our infrastructure, and a lot of that involves concrete, whether its roads or bridges or buildings or things like that, we just have to make sure the government isn’t taking away what it’s giving with one hand.
“I think we’re going to have to look at this all very carefully and we’re going to have to look at it beyond the boundaries of the four corners of the legislation that we will be voting on in the next couple of weeks. If we do this and do this properly, we will be doing ourselves and the American people a great favor. If we don’t do this properly, we’re going to end up being asked to bail out more industries that we harm either by sins of omissions or sins of commission. We’re going to lose the accountability that we desperately need when the federal governments appropriates a huge amount of money.
“The final point I want to make is that accountability is really the key.”