America’s Climate Security Act, the Senate climate bill offered by Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John Warner (R-Va.), offers enormous giveaways to the nation’s biggest polluters, in the form of billions of dollars worth of free pollution permits, which won’t be zeroed out until 2036. Last Thursday, while the bill was passing through subcommittee, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office was testifying to the House Budget Committee on "Approaches to Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions."

According to the CBO, giving emission allowances away to fossil-fuel-intensive companies "could create ‘windfall’ profits for those firms." Even if plied with credits, power companies will likely raise energy prices anyway, and "the resulting price increases would disproportionately affect people at the lower end of the income scale." Perhaps hurting the poor to feed the rich might be tolerable from a macroeconomic perspective if the overall cost were lower, but it’s not — it’s higher. In fact, the macroeconomic cost "might be more than twice as large if policymakers gave allowances away than if they sold the allowances and used the revenue to lower current taxes on labor or capital that discourage economic activity, such as income or payroll taxes."

Got all that? The CBO says the "consensus" climate bill in the Senate is a massive giveaway to the nation’s largest polluters, at the expense of low-income citizens and at a higher total cost.

As if that were not a thorough enough repudiation of the current political approach to climate change, the CBO also said that a carbon tax would be "more effective" than a cap-and-trade program.

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