Levin a better choice than Stark for Ways and Means

The passing over of Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) in favor of Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) as chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee has policy implications during a time of high unemployment. Stark had seniority over Levin and was also chair of the Health subcommittee at a time when the Democratic leadership is concentrated on medical insurance reform. But there was opposition in the Democratic ranks to Stark which benefited Levin who is more closely associated with employment issues as chair of the Trade subcommittee.

Stark is on the far left of the party and closely identified with the Green movement. He voted against the Waxman-Markey "cap and trade" bill (H. R. 2454) last summer because it did not go far enough. In his floor speech, Stark argued,

Global warming is real. Man causes it and it threatens nearly every aspect of life. We are right to act with urgency to end our nation's addiction to fossil fuels and combat global warming. But we cannot waste this opportunity by moving a deeply flawed bill that provides too much to special interests and too little to the environment and consumers.....This legislation continues the "clean coal" myth by providing at least $60 billion for pie in the sky projects that will only continue the destruction of mountains and waterways at the hands of coal mining operations.

Stark's position was in line with Greenpeace which lobbied against H.R. 2454. According to Greenpeace,

The Waxman-Markey bill sets emission reduction targets far lower than science demands, then undermines even those targets with massive offsets. The giveaways and preferences in the bill will actually spur a new generation of nuclear and coal-fired power plants to the detriment of real energy solutions.

For Greenpeace, "The cheapest, most efficient way to cut global warming emissions is to reduce energy use across all sectors of the economy." An anti-energy policy would be deadly to American industry. Levin, whose district is centered on Detroit, is munch more sympathetic to the needs of manufacturing.

Levin voted for H.R. 2454, but his floor speech concentrated on a provision he had worked hard to incorporate into the bill, the right to use border taxes (tariffs) against foreign imports from countries with lax environmental standards. For the U.S. to unilaterally adopt emission cuts would put American-based industry at a competitive disadvantage and drive the further relocation of factories overseas. It was precisely this clash of national interests between the developing countries led by China and the Western industrial states that collapsed the Copenhagen UN climate conference in December.

The developing countries demanded that the West alone should cut back its greenhouse gas emissions, while they would remain free to grow as they wished without constraints. They also wanted the UN to ban border taxes on their exports like those championed by Levin. On both counts, the U.S. rejected the demands and kept its options open.

Levin believes, "In this time of crisis, countries also need the temporary flexibility to help rescue their own industries - through loans, incentives and regulations - without charges of protectionism." A top priority item on Levin's agenda will be renewing the expired research and development tax credits, and making them permanent. His pro-growth orientation is in vivid contrast to Rep. Stark's view. Given the critical role that tax policy plays in shaping the business environment, the country is in relatively better hands with Levin as chair of the Ways and Means Committee as long as the Democrats maintain control of the House.

The passing over of Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) in favor of Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) as chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee has policy implications during a time of high unemployment. Stark had seniority over Levin and was also chair of the Health subcommittee at a time when the Democratic leadership is concentrated on medical insurance reform. But there was opposition in the Democratic ranks to Stark which benefited Levin who is more closely associated with employment issues as chair of the Trade subcommittee.

Stark is on the far left of the party and closely identified with the Green movement. He voted against the Waxman-Markey "cap and trade" bill (H. R. 2454) last summer because it did not go far enough. In his floor speech, Stark argued,

Global warming is real. Man causes it and it threatens nearly every aspect of life. We are right to act with urgency to end our nation's addiction to fossil fuels and combat global warming. But we cannot waste this opportunity by moving a deeply flawed bill that provides too much to special interests and too little to the environment and consumers.....This legislation continues the "clean coal" myth by providing at least $60 billion for pie in the sky projects that will only continue the destruction of mountains and waterways at the hands of coal mining operations.

Stark's position was in line with Greenpeace which lobbied against H.R. 2454. According to Greenpeace,

The Waxman-Markey bill sets emission reduction targets far lower than science demands, then undermines even those targets with massive offsets. The giveaways and preferences in the bill will actually spur a new generation of nuclear and coal-fired power plants to the detriment of real energy solutions.

For Greenpeace, "The cheapest, most efficient way to cut global warming emissions is to reduce energy use across all sectors of the economy." An anti-energy policy would be deadly to American industry. Levin, whose district is centered on Detroit, is munch more sympathetic to the needs of manufacturing.

Levin voted for H.R. 2454, but his floor speech concentrated on a provision he had worked hard to incorporate into the bill, the right to use border taxes (tariffs) against foreign imports from countries with lax environmental standards. For the U.S. to unilaterally adopt emission cuts would put American-based industry at a competitive disadvantage and drive the further relocation of factories overseas. It was precisely this clash of national interests between the developing countries led by China and the Western industrial states that collapsed the Copenhagen UN climate conference in December.

The developing countries demanded that the West alone should cut back its greenhouse gas emissions, while they would remain free to grow as they wished without constraints. They also wanted the UN to ban border taxes on their exports like those championed by Levin. On both counts, the U.S. rejected the demands and kept its options open.

Levin believes, "In this time of crisis, countries also need the temporary flexibility to help rescue their own industries - through loans, incentives and regulations - without charges of protectionism." A top priority item on Levin's agenda will be renewing the expired research and development tax credits, and making them permanent. His pro-growth orientation is in vivid contrast to Rep. Stark's view. Given the critical role that tax policy plays in shaping the business environment, the country is in relatively better hands with Levin as chair of the Ways and Means Committee as long as the Democrats maintain control of the House.

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