I'm watching with amazement as the House gets ready to ram through the Waxman-Markey climate change bill that not a single member has likely read all the way through, let alone understands. I spent much of last week and early this week reading through the second iteration of the bill, the mere 946 page version (up from the original 650 page first draft). Then early this week the bill grew to 1,201 pages, and as of this morning, no one knows how long it is. That's because Henry Waxman dropped in a 309 page amendment this morning at about 3 am, and there is confusion as to whether it is substitute language for the existing bill, or 309 additional new pages. (It is apparently the latter, but it is hard to tell.) But why let that hold up a vote?
I'll have a paper out next week analyzing the most salient aspects of Waxman-Markey before it heads off to the Senate (I assume it will pass the House by brute force of the Democratic leadership), but my short summary is thus: It is the energy and climate policy equivalent of Sarbanes-Oxley financial regulation, guaranteeing extensive new bureaucracy and substantial economic cost to the productive economy while achieving few of its stated objectives. Just as Sarbanes-Oxley did little or nothing to expose and prevent the excessive risk and inflated asset values of the housing and financial sector, Waxman-Markey will do little to achieve genuine greenhouse gas emission reductions and curb the risks of global warming. The "cap and trade" system at the heart of the bill is riddled with so many loopholes that it should be considered more of a "hairnet and giveaway."
Stay tuned; this one will be a case study for decades to come if it actually passes the Senate and gets signed into law.