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McCain Repeats ‘Cap and Tax’ Allegations

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) who highlighted his support for cap-and-trade legislation to woo independent and environmentally-minded voters during the 2008 presidential campaign, affirmed again this week that he’s not willing to vote for a Democratic climate bill.

“I can’t use cap and trade as a way to increase revenue,” McCain told E&E. “It’s $630 billion that’s in the president’s budget. That’s not cap and trade. That’s appropriately called cap and tax. So we have to look at that.”

His argument against the Democrats’ plan is that it would raise money for the government. McCain started his campaign against any Democratic climate plan back in April, shortly after the Obama administration included a rough outline of cap-and-trade in their budget that McCain argued amounted to “cap and tax.” The plan in Obama’s budget would have relied on a cap-and-trade scheme in which most of the pollution permits were auctioned off. Even with significant auction, the Obama outline figures on just $79 billion coming into the Treasury from the auction of carbon credits in 2012. The income ramps up slowly to $83 billion in 2019.

But the Obama budget outline was always a hypothetical, with little influence on the legislation Congress is working on. The actual bill that passed in the House auctions off just 15 percent of permits in the initial years of the plan. The Congressional Budget Office’s scoring of the House bill found that it would draw in just a $24.4 billion to the Treasury between 2012 and 2019. That’s $605.6 billion less than McCain’s estimate.

Regardless of whether McCain’s critiques are grounded in reality, it’s not looking very likely that he’ll be a “yes” vote on climate legislation this year.

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