Tony Fratto: Political Heat Will Rise On Election Day
It's an open question whether the Waxman-Markey climate billwill do anything to reduce global temperatures, but there's no doubt congressional supporters will feel the heat during the mid-term elections next year.
Waxman-Markey - a mammoth bill of more than 1200 mostly unread pages - is set for a vote today in the House of Representatives. The aim of the bill is to charge Americansa sufficiently high price for carbon so that we'll all use less of it. (Yes, by the way, a cost imposed on people, mandated by the government, is hardly distinguishable from a "tax".)
The White House, Democratic leaders, and even former Vice President Al Gore (relegated to making phone calls from his carbon-intensive mansion in Tennessee) are all turning up the heat on wavering congressmen as the vote approaches.
How will that heat generation be offset?
Well, that's what congressmen are wondering, and that's why they're wavering.
Set aside the policy debate for now. Today, members of Congress aren't consumed by estimates of global climate temperatures 18 years from now. They'll instead be consumed with estimates of the political climate 18 months from now.
Here's a safe prediction: if energy prices continue on their present climb, supporters of Waxman-Markey should expect a long hot summer and fall in 2010.
Tony Fratto is a CNBC on-air contributor and most recently served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Press Secretary for the Bush Administration.