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Andy Pattantyus: Is it a good bill? Decide for yourself

Posted: May 6, 2010 12:00 p.m.
Updated: May 7, 2010 4:55 a.m.
Two factors make any legislative bill suspect: excessive length and a rushed vote. Both are major red flags demanding suspicion.
To ensure a document does not get read, make it longer than 50 pages. To deny debate and scrutiny, rush the process.

In both cases we must ask, "Why?"

I immediately have five questions: 

* How much will it cost?

* Who pays?

* Who benefits?

* Will it produce measurable results?

* Can the system be manipulated?

Based on the answers to these questions, you can assess for yourself whether a bill is good or bad.

First, how much will it cost? For many recent big bills, we know the cost will be hundreds of billions - even trillions - of dollars per year, but nobody knows for sure. The Congressional Budget Office makes estimates. Confined to a 10-year window, the CBO cannot truly predict long-term costs.

The Heritage Foundation estimates that cap and trade will cost $1,870 per year in increased energy costs for a family of four.

Second, who pays? Ultimately, the cost of legislation is paid by the people, as direct taxes or as increased prices.

Spending in excess of revenue is covered by debt, which has a service cost. When debt becomes too large to service, then inflation becomes attractive to politicians, because it is a tax in disguise.

Recent legislation strives to avoid imposing a direct federal tax, but forces increased costs and state taxes.

Since there is no choice about the expenditure, it is a tax in all but name. Such "taxes" and costs are very regressive, unjustly falling most heavily on those who can least afford it, and are thus very cruel taxes in disguise.

Third, who benefits? For cap and trade, the inconvenient truth is that GE, Al Gore and Goldman Sachs alumni all benefit in a big way.
GE benefits because it sells windmills and solar panels, and thus will be able to sell large quantities of the energy credits that polluters will have to buy.

Gore, Goldman Sachs and its alumni benefit because they own the exchange (CCX) where energy credits are traded.

Naturally, these folks are lobbying hard for passage of cap and trade.

Fourth, will it produce measurable results? Has the stimulus bill created millions of new jobs?

Will health care reform reduce the cost of care, or improve the quality? Will cap and trade reduce emissions?

These bills are deliberately blurry about any methods by which we can measure results for the taxpayers. Ultimately, such legislation produces measurable results for special interests, not the taxpayer.

Fifth, can the system be manipulated? Since an official bureau can easily add or remove carbon credits from the market, the cap-and-trade system is ripe for political manipulation.

Health care costs can easily be controlled by denial of service through excessive wait times. If you die of cancer during your long wait for an MRI, then many expensive procedures have been avoided.

Lastly, what do the votes look like? Executive orders, overreaching regulatory mandates, and legislation without even one vote of support from the opposing party are not balanced, and are sure to produce poor long-term results for our country.

Since our country's founding, both parties have been guilty of pushing bad legislation, with the most egregious bills being passed when both houses and the executive office are controlled by one party. A filibuster-proof Senate is huge temptation for legislation favoring special interests.

In the past year, several big bills have captured the attention of the public, including health care reform, cap and trade and the stimulus programs. When examined using the criteria outlined above, these bills come up short on all counts. The bills are heavily
rigged by special-interest groups that profit at everyone else's expense.

Twenty years ago, I learned an important principle.

For both corporations and individuals, the purpose of policy making in Washington is to "commonize costs and privatize profits."

Every special interest is trying to accomplish this goal with its expensive lobbyists.

I cannot support any lengthy federal bill rushed to a vote. I encourage readers to research the issues, resulting in letters to our representatives and votes in November.

Andy Pattantyus lives and works in Santa Clarita and is president of Strategic Modularity, Inc. He can be reached at His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. "Right Here, Right Now!" appears Fridays in The Signal and rotates among local Republican writers.


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