WASHINGTON – A conservative, free-market advocacy group will begin airing ads this week pressing Senate Republicans and Democrats to vote against a bill that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Club for Growth wants to scuttle a bill by Sens. Joe Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, and John Warner, R-Va., that the Senate is scheduled to begin debating next month. Despite the ad campaign, the bill seems to lack the votes needed to overcome a filibuster.
With $250,000 in radio and television spots, the Club for Growth is targeting Republican Sens. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, and Democratic Sens. Robert Byrd and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Max Baucus and Jon Tester of Montana. Dole, a co-sponsor of the bill, as well as Alexander, Baucus and Rockefeller face re-election this year.
“Congress is at it again,” a television ad airing in Tennessee says. “This time they’re pushing massive new taxes and regulation in the name of global warming. But let’s ask ourselves, are the unproven benefits of legislation worth the major job losses, new taxes and increased energy costs that could result?
“Call Senator Lamar Alexander and tell him to vote no on the Lieberman-Warner climate bill. Tennesseans just can’t afford another huge, costly government program.”
All but the Montana ads will air Tuesday. Ads aimed at Tester and Baucus will air next week.
The proposed legislation calls for capping carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, transportation and industrial sources with a goal of reducing greenhouse gases by 71 percent by mid-century.
Democrats have proposed huge tax reductions to help people pay higher energy prices as a result of the shift from fossil fuels to other energy sources. The money would come from auctioning off greenhouse gas emission allowances to utilities and industry.
Club for Growth President Pat Toomey, a former Republican congressman form Pennsylvania, called the legislation a “massive redistribution of wealth.”
“This would be extremely destructive to economic growth,” he said. “If it dies here in June, we will be very alert to any prospects of its revival.”
The Club for Growth ads also come after Republican presidential candidate John McCain recently spelled out an energy policy that embraces a cap-and-trade system similar to that envisioned by Warner and Lieberman. McCain, however, has not endorsed the Lieberman-Warner bill and has called for greater reliance on nuclear power to reduce greenhouse gases.
“The fundamentals that Senator McCain seems to support are badly misguided,” Toomey said.
Despite its conservative outlook, The Club for Growth has shown no qualms about targeting Republicans in the past. It has supported conservative challengers to incumbent Republicans in congressional primaries. And earlier this year, an affiliated group, ClubforGrowth.net, aired ads that criticized the tax record of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Republican presidential candidate.
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