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Camp Opening Statment: Hearing on FY2010 Budget Overview w/ Sec. Geithner

March 03, 2009

MARCH 3, 2009


Thank you for yielding, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Secretary, the President’s budget increases taxes on every American and does so during a recession.  Now, before my friends on the other side rise up in revolt, let me point out that what the President gives, he more than takes away in his new energy taxes. 

As the President has said, and as you can read on the screens, “Under [his] plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket…Coal power plants, natural gas—you name it—whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was they would have to retrofit their operations.  That will cost money they will pass that money onto consumers.”

The 20 cents an hour you might get under “Make Work Pay” would barely cover the added $1.60 per gallon EPA says gas could cost, let alone the potential for an 80% jump in electricity rates.

Of course, both of these pale in comparison to the potential job losses, which the National Association of Manufacturers estimates to be in the range of 3 to 4 million.  That hit would be devastating to my home state of Michigan.

I am equally concerned that this new tax could have the perverse effect of harming our shift to cleaner, renewable fuels right here in America.  To manufacture the energy technologies of tomorrow, we need utilize the abundant and low-cost energy sources of today.

Take for example Hemlock Semiconductor and Dow Corning, both with facilities in my district.  One makes the raw materials while the other manufactures the initial portion of the next generation of solar panels.

As you can well imagine, I and many in the region are supportive of, and excited about, this new growing venture.  However, critical to their growth – and the region’s economic recovery – are massive sources of energy.  That energy can only be provided by clean coal.

Currently, we are lucky enough to have energy producers willing to build such facilities in the region.  These ventures, and the new jobs depending upon them, remain very much in doubt.  Recently, our Governor attempted to illegally derail their permitting process.  Fortunately, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox stepped in and put a stop to her literal power grab.

My concern now turns to the viability of such projects under your new energy tax proposals.  If these projects are to be saddled with new regulations and new costs – which, as the President rightly noted, would be passed on to consumers – how do they get off the ground?  How do we grow our economy without new energy sources? 

As much as we may wish we could, you cannot power a plant with solar alone, you cannot fly a commercial airliner with wind alone, and you certainly cannot expect American families to prosper under massive new energy costs.

Mr. Secretary, there is much in this budget I hope we have the chance to discuss – taking a pass on Social Security reform, higher taxes on American energy producers, higher taxes on small businesses, higher taxes on investments – but I am most interested in hearing your explanation as to how dramatically increasing the cost of energy in this country a) helps families and b) helps create jobs.

This, and many of your other proposals have failed to ignite confidence in the market.  In fact, since the President’s election, the stock market has declined a staggering 28% – $3 trillion.  Frankly, Mr. Secretary, that drop has decimated the savings, investments and retirements of millions of Americans.

I sincerely hope we will hear today how you intend to reverse that direction and get our economy moving again so Americans may go back to work. 

With that, I yield back the balance of my time. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.