From Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller --
Standing in the Rose Garden this afternoon, President Obama called for the House of Representatives to pass the energy bill written by Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Ed Markey, D-Mass., calling Friday's roll call a "vote of historic proportions" that would likely be close because of "misinformation that's out there that suggests there is somehow a contradiction between investing in clean energy and our economic growth."
"Make no mistake, this is a jobs bill," Mr. Obama said, arguing that the bill would "create incentives to spark a clean energy economy."
The president listed thousands of such jobs that are being created through the stimulus bill, he said: solar energy jobs in California and Florida and jobs related to wind energy that would be created in Michigan, and "the list goes on and on."
House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, recently wrote a letter to his colleagues saying the bill "will be one of the defining debates of the 2010 cycle," calling the cap-and-trade system where polluters pay for carbon emissions a "scheme that will destroy American jobs, raise prices for gasoline, electricity, and other sources of energy, and devastate middle-class families and small businesses."
Boehner wrote that "the American people will remember this debate and will remember who stands up for them."
But the president portrayed the bill as moderate, calling it "balanced and sensible," saying concerns about its cost and impact on consumers have been addressed. He said the 10-year cost to the average American would be "about the same as a postage stamp per day" – which comes out to more than $1,600 per American over a decade.
"Instead of increasing the deficit, it's paid for by the polluters who currently emit dangerous carbon emissions," the president said, adding that businesses and families will be given help "as they make the gradual transition to clean energy technologies."
He said the bill had "already attracted a remarkable coalition of consumer and environmental groups, labor and business leaders, Democrats and Republicans."
Only one Republican, Rep. Mary Bono, R-Calif., supported the bill when it was voted upon in the Energy and Commerce Committee earlier this month.
The president said that for more than three decades, the American people have been talking about ending the US dependence upon foreign oil while doing little about it.
"We've seen our reliance on fossil fuels jeopardize our national security," he said. "We've seen it pollute the air we breathe and endanger our planet. And most of all, we've seen that other countries realize a critical truth: The nation that leads in the creation of a clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the 21st century global economy."
"Now is the time for the United States of America to realize this as well," he said. "And now's the time for us to lead."
The president ignored questions shouted by reporters about what he's doing to help pass the bill and whether he's disappointed by the his previously stated goal of 100% of carbon emissions auctioned off being reduced to 15%.
-Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller