New leadership could cause rift for businesses

Freedom New Mexico

“Change” is all the rage these days in Washington. While relative newcomer President-elect Barack Obama popularized the idea, it may be an old-hand who demonstrates it most forcefully.

California Rep. Henry Waxman reportedly surprised even many insiders when he was elected by secret ballot of Democrats to head the powerful energy and commerce committee, ousting Rep. John D. Dingell of Michigan, the House’s longest-serving member.

This was no mere changing of the guard. Dingell, more moderate, pragmatic and a defender of Detroit’s auto industry, often warred with Waxman, one of the House’s farthest left liberals who has served since 1974.

The leadership change should bring quick and dramatic action in areas under Waxman’s purview, such as global warming, alternative fuels and health care, which is to say vastly more government interference, mandates and imposed costs.

Perhaps for fear of worsening the economy, President-elect Obama already has sent signals that he may not move quite as quickly or as far left as the left end of his party may have expected. He could be tested soon by zealous Waxman, who now is in a position to more aggressively push his government-interventionist preferences.

Waxman worked to create the Environmental Protection Agency and advanced auto emission and anti-pollution regulations while expanding Medicare.

“This should provide a loud wake-up call to American business leaders that the 111th Congress is not going to play nicely with them on energy rationing policies,” warned Myron Ebell, director of energy and global warming policy with the Competitive Enterprise Institute free market think tank.

Congress toyed last year with cap-and-trade global warming legislation, a proposal that allows companies to meet emissions targets through “trade,” but which is estimated to produce a cumulative gross domestic product loss of $4.8 trillion by 2030, according to a Heritage Foundation analysis. Ebell says