Thanks in large part to the Tea Party and Congressional Republicans, the second would-be signature piece for Obama's term died in the Senate in 2009.
If you look at what happened with Europe's version, one could call the US bill a bill FOR the 1 percent: it would have cost middle class families more in energy bills and it would have made a select few speculators and traders very rich, without actually doing much for emission reductions.
It is safe to say that IF Cap and Trade had passed, the average American would be in a deeper hole of financial pain. Also, by extension Obama would then have been much lower in the polls. But, as it stands, instead Obama led an end-run around Congress through the EPA, effectively putting constraints on tha American coal industry. Now it is those pockets of coal producers who are feeling the brunt of failing livelihoods; with a Cap and Trade bill, the coal industry pain would have been combined with utilities pain for MOST Americans. In effect, by killing the bill in the Senate, those "obstructionist" Republicans and a comparative few Dems spared the middle class, and by extension, Obama's reputation, in part.
Anyone see how sometimes partisanship can be benefical to the everyday American? Can anyone, truly and honestly, say that the GOP has only stopped progress? The job of any element of government that balances powers is to stop bad and harmful ideas. In the case of cap and Trade, the GOP stopped a corporatist, middle-class-harming, bureacratic boondoggle in its tracks.
If the GOP was really only about seeing Obama fail, the quicker way would have been to let Waxman-Markey pass while raising voices of discontent, but that would have hurt millions of Americans in the process, even if it would have created a more extreme anti-Obama mandate now in 2012. If Congress and the GOP really were just led along by corporate puppetmasters, then Waxman-Markay would have passed. Thankfully, something in America still works and there is less of a mess to clean up starting January 2013.
The most pressing social issue today is the economy