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« Dems Take Aim at Crist | Blog Home Page | Obama Signals Openness To Panel On Torture »

McCain Slams "Cap And Tax" Energy Plan

As Congress opens hearings on new energy policies, John McCain said President Obama is pursuing a strategy that is a "revenue generator for the federal government," not a solution to the threat of climate change.

In addition, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee argued that the Obama administration is at risk of making a weak economy worse by pursuing what he called "a tax, borrow and spend policy of historic proportions," which he said the administration's plan derails undermines "bipartisan legislation" he has worked to address climate change.

"At this time of economic hardship, it is beyond irresponsible to further raise costs of operation for our country's businesses," he said at an energy forum hosted by the Reform Institute in Washington today. "I still believe that it is the time to address this critical domestic and international issue. But my vision for a cap and trade system is mechanism to lower greenhouse gases in our hemisphere, not as a revenue generator for the federal government."

He said the administration plan would create "a federal slush fund to pay for health care reform or other social programs."

"We must design a program that balances the needs of our environment with the needs of our economy, carefully balancing incentives with informed restrictions," he said. "It will take a combination of auctioning and allocating carbon credits, giving enough credits away to accommodate the transition costs and allow businesses to stay open, and prevent drastic increases in utility rates for customers."

The cap and trade before Congress now is actually authored by Reps. Henry Waxman and Ed Markey, though the White House made their legislation more urgent when the EPA issued a new finding on Friday "that greenhouse gases contribute to air pollution that may endanger public health or welfare."

Taking a larger view of energy policy, McCain also argued as he did throughout the presidential campaign that America should include nuclear power in any long-term strategy.

"We need to start making decisions in Washington based on facts, not pure partisan politics," he said. "We need to make choices based on sound science, national security, and a clear vision of our economic future. That's why I continue to be baffled by the rhetoric coming out of this administration in relation to our nuclear power industry."

He said that "pursuing only a limited number of green technologies, while refusing to recognize the important role of nuclear power, clean coal and other forms of green energy will be to limit our own economic and environmental progress."

McCain's comments came as fellow Republicans urged the Democratic-run committee to hold off on hearings, arguing that legislation is not ready yet. In addition, it was reported that McCain will face a primary challenge in his bid for re-election next year in the person of Chris Simcox, former head of the Minuteman anti-illegal immigration group.