Virtually every elected official from Juneau to Washington, D.C., expresses deep concern about the loss of jobs and the need to jump-start our economy. After all, the national unemployment rate sits at around 10 percent (the highest in a quarter century) and here in Alaska, it stands at a lower but still troubling
Getting a grip on unemployment is the first priority of economic policy, which is why Gov. Sean Parnell introduced legislation for a two-year suspension of the state’s motor-fuel tax. It’s also the reason state Rep. Bill Stoltze has introduced House Joint Resolution 45 calling on Congress to scrap cap-and-trade legislation.
Alaska’s congressional delegation should oppose the energy-rationing, cap-and-trade bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives last year (and will soon come before the U.S. Senate) and move on to more viable efforts that will help, not hurt, Alaska small businesses, employers, workers and families.
Supporters of cap and trade claim that such a federally mandated program, which is built upon massive energy taxes and cumbersome rationing mechanisms, will effortlessly create jobs and reduce carbon emissions with little, if any, economic impact. Yet, from businesses big and small to workers and their families, an overwhelming majority clearly disagrees. In fact, our organization, the National Federation of Independent Business, released a public survey showing that Alaska voters are greatly concerned about the impact that a cap-and-trade system would have on jobs, energy prices and economic growth.
Key findings of the Alaska survey include:
• 57 percent of voters oppose a federal cap-and-trade system while 33 percent favor such a system. (Ten percent have no opinion.)
• 45 percent believe a federal cap-and-trade system would lead to more job losses while 18 percent believe it would have no effect and 23 percent believe it would create jobs. (Fifteen percent have no opinion.)
• 64 percent of voters believe a federal cap-and-trade system would increase energy costs while 19 percent say it would have no effect and only 6 percent believe it would lower costs. (Ten percent had no opinion.)
• 50 percent of voters believe a federal cap-and-trade system will limit economic growth while 19 percent say it will have no effect and 19 percent believe it will increase growth. (Twelve percent had no opinion.)
This survey follows on the heels of two national polls released late last month gauging opinions of small businesses and voters across the United States. Small business owners, our nation’s engine of job creation, express similar skepticism about employment claims, with 69 percent believing that a cap-and-trade system won’t create a single job Fourteen percent do not know and 17 percent believe jobs would be created. Furthermore, nearly
60 percent believe that energy prices will rise if cap and trade is passed into law.
Given that small businesses create between
60 and 80 percent of all new jobs, their perspective surely should have some weight. Accordingly, does anyone really believe massive new energy taxes that will cause more job losses and increase energy costs for businesses and families alike should be at the top of Congress’ priority list — right now or ever?
In addition to NFIB, many other organizations responsible for creating jobs have come out against cap and trade. The arguments against are both sobering and compelling. For example, the National Association of Manufacturers estimates that cap-and-trade legislation will destroy 2.4 million jobs and reduce gross domestic product by as much as $3.1 trillion. The American Farm Bureau, likewise, just voted unanimously to oppose cap-and-trade legislation.
Their opposition is well founded, because the evidence shows that cap and trade won’t work. In European countries operating under cap-and-trade systems, unemployment rates have gone up while reductions in carbon emissions have not materialized. That’s even with the decreased economic output that has resulted from the continuing global recession.
Major developing economies in China and India, whose energy use is increasing exponentially, have said “no” to similar cap-and-trade-like systems that would restrain their economies. And without these nations on board, even sweeping actions here in the United States would have literally no beneficial effect on the planet.
The people have spoken: Cap and trade is the last thing Alaska needs right now.
Mike Miller, a former Alaska legislator, is owner of Santa Claus House in North Pole and a leadership council member of the National Federation of Independent Business Alaska.