Senators John Kerry, (D-Mass.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), introduced their version of the climate bill on Wednesday. It includes a new catch phrase to sell their global warming bill. Instead of referring to ‘cap and trade’ the new version refers to ‘pollution reduction and investment.’

The rebranding is an indication of the uphill battle the climate bill faces in the Senate.

Republicans were quick to go on the attack, with Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) calling the proposed bill “an assault on agriculture.” Senator Kit Bond, (R-Mo.) said he hasn’t spoken to one Missouri farmer who believes the bill is good for agriculture. Both Johanns and Bond believe the bill will put U.S. businesses, especially agriculture, at a competitive disadvantage and believe foreign governments such as China and India must also agree to reduce their emissions.

A number of Democratic senators said they continue to have trouble with crucial elements of the climate legislation. Several said it would be hugely challenging, perhaps impossible, to try to get a climate bill passed this year.

Another sign of trouble for the bill is misunderstanding of the issues, even by the bill’s author. "I don't know what 'cap-and-trade' means," Kerry said. "Cap and trade doesn't mean anything to people." The words "cap and trade," ''global warming" and "climate" also did not appear in a White House statement responding to the bill's introduction.

Cap and trade still is the centerpiece of the Senate bill, as it is in the House-passed version. The bill specifies a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020, and an 80 percent cut by mid-century. Environmentalists said Wednesday that all along they had been promoting the energy security and jobs that would come from the bill.

Republican critics, who frequently have referred to the House-passed bill as "cap and tax" maintaining it would lead to soaring energy prices, were not about to join in on the rhetorical shift.

Sen. James Inhofe, (R-Okla.), a critic of climate legislation, said Kerry and Boxer were making "an earnest attempt ... to refashion the obvious," but they "produced yet another massive energy tax that will destroy jobs (and) raise electricity and gasoline prices."

Sen. Roger Wicker, (R-Miss.) called the Democratic bill a "cap and trade scheme" that "would suppress our economic recovery, cost jobs across our economy and result in higher prices on everything from energy to food."

Democratic supporters reject the Republicans' dire economic claims, arguing that the bill contains measures to mitigate the cost to consumers and develop alternative energy sources and "green" jobs.

Source: Associated Press