Media Ownership, Lieberman-Warner and Farm Bill Facing Congress

A week before Memorial Day, many Americans remain uneasy about their personal financial situation, partly because rising energy prices are putting a squeeze on family budgets. Now along comes a Heritage Foundation analysis of the Lieberman-Warner (S.2191) global-warming bill, which shows serious peril ahead if Congress enacts this cap-and-trade scheme to reduce carbon dioxide. Conservatives have long been concerned about a de facto energy tax, but the study’s findings should worry all Americans. By coincidence, the same day Heritage released its dire economic analysis, John McCain outlined his global-warming solution, saying that “[a] cap-and-trade policy will send a signal that will be heard and welcomed all across the American economy.” Maybe not in McCain’s state, though: The Heritage analysis shows that if Lieberman-Warner becomes law, Arizona’s economy could lose $7.7 billion in 2030.

McCain hasn’t signed on to Lieberman-Warner, but he did co-sponsor a similar bill with Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) in 2003, and he promised to submit “a cap-and-trade system to change the dynamic of our energy economy” if he is elected President. Arizona residents may not like that new dynamic.

Under Lieberman-Warner, in 2030 Connecticut’s economy will lose nearly $6.8 billion. John Warner’s Virginia: $12.2 billion. Illinois, the home state of Barack Obama (who is proposing a bill that’s 15% more restrictive than the current proposal) will suffer dramatic losses in 2030 that amount to $19.6 billion.

Many in Congress feel they need to do something, anything, to help their constituents. Well, a cap-and-trade program will do something–something bad to the economy. Conservatives would rather see if Congress will warm to ideas that promote economic growth, versus a Lieberman-Warner approach that may cause financial cooling or even an economic deep freeze.

Media Ownership

The Senate will vote on a resolution disapproving media ownership rule changes approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) before the Memorial Day recess. This resolution, similar to the fight by the left to impose the Fairness Doctrine in talk radio, would effectively attempt to use the federal government to control speech in media outlets by restoring the ban on joint ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations. Sen. Byron Dorgan (D.-N.D.) has introduced the resolution, which would restore restrictions on cross-ownership of media outlets in major U.S. markets.

The FCC proposed to relax rules that barred media companies from owning a TV or radio station and a newspaper in the same market last December. The FCC based the decision on the fact that many newspapers are struggling to adapt to competition from new media. Left-wing groups such as MoveOn.org have been pushing for the resolution of disapproval, raising fears that joint ownership would create media monopolies.

But competition in the media world has never been more intense, especially given the ever-expanding reach of Internet news outlets. The real fear of many on the left is the content of the news and fear that “conservative” publishers will obtain “too much” power.
Conservatives should reject government interference in media, and let consumers, not politicians, make decisions on how the media marketplace works.

Farm Bill Conference Report

The latest farm bill contains a massive $10 billion increase in the food stamp program. And earmarks in it further exacerbate the high cost of our nation’s farm policy. Are you a dry pea, lentil, small chick-pea or large chick-pea farmer? If so, you get more subsidies. In addition to regular crop subsidies and regular crop insurance, the bill creates a $3.8 billion disaster aid program that will encourage members of Congress to declare repeated disasters to spend the monies in this account. The conference report is loaded with special-interest tax relief and subsidies. In the end, only 15 Senators voted against this Conference Report and Senator DeMint (R-SC) declared on the Senate floor that “we have continued to expand the scope of the federal government.”

Conservatives need to maintain the drumbeat against waste, fraud and abuse in government spending, because the congressional appetite for earmarks seems endless. If Congress can’t even rid the farm bill of earmarks and special-interest tax provisions, how is it going to tackle entitlement reform and start to dismantle the welfare state as we know it?

Polar Bear Huggers

Last week Bush Administration officials took the dangerous step of listing the polar bear as threatened because global warming is said to threaten its icy habitat. They declared the science clear (we’ve heard that before) and our Canadian friends wrong. While they will try to nullify economic concerns by including a buffer for unintended consequences, the decision marks a huge victory for radical environmentalists and trouble for main-street Americans.

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