Cheerleading for the Lieberman-Warner carbon cap plan being debated in the Senate as we type, the Washington Post editorializes: “The foundation of the legislation is a cap-and-trade system that would put a price on carbon by having a declining cap on greenhouse gas emissions permitted for each year between 2012 and 2050. Emission permits could be bought and sold; this would promote increasing energy efficiency with a minimum of government prescription.”

If the Washington Post thinks carbon caps are “a minimum of government prescription,” they’ve been in Washington too long. The New York Times reports on the bill today:

Some of the most powerful corporate leaders in America have been meeting regularly with leading environmental groups in a conference room in downtown Washington for over two years to work on proposals for a national policy to limit carbon emissions.

What divides them is that dealing with climate change will almost certainly hurt some industries and enrich others. Billions of dollars are at stake. Depending on how the nation decides to tackle the problem, electricity bills in some states could rise 50 percent, and gasoline prices could go up 50 cents a gallon.

“If they are not at the table, they will not have a hand in the making of the regulation,” said Robert N. Stavins, director of the environmental economics program at Harvard University.

In other words, major companies in the US know that government is about to pick economic winners and losers on an unprecedented scale, so they are pouring millions of dollars into lobbyists to make sure that they come out in the “winner” column when all the legislating is said and done. If environmentalists really wanted “a minimum of government prescription” they would enact a very simple carbon tax. Problem is, voters would then know exactly who to blame for their sky high gas and energy prices.