Last month, the Climate Leadership Council (CLC) proposed a "conservative case" for a carbon tax. Pitched as "insurance," it was premised upon claims that "evidence of climate change is growing too strong to ignore," and that "the risks associated with future warming are too big and should be hedged."
Representing the establishment wing of the Republican Party, CLC would replace the Obama administration’s so-called "Clean Power Plan" (CPP) with a tax on fossil fuels.
Revenues were to be redistributed back as dividends to low-income recipients who would be proportionally most heavily impacted by resulting household energy and gasoline cost escalations. A family of four would receive a $2,000 payout in the first year.
The tax rate would be reassessed after five years as determined by a "blue ribbon" commission based upon the "best climate science available" . . . certainly a very low bar to hobble over by prevailing government political standards.
CLC also proposes highly complex "border adjustments" established for the carbon content of imports and exports in order "to protect American competitiveness" and "encourage them to adopt carbon pricing policies of their own."
Exports to countries without comparable systems would then receive rebates, while non-compliant importers would face penalty fees.
The entire carbon tax idea is based upon the notion of penalizing "bad" fossil energy to make it more expensive in order to make "good" energy (as determined by powerful subsidy-seeking green-marketing interests), more cost-competitive.
Proponents of this nonsense include former secretaries of state George Shultz and James Baker who pressed the case in a Feb. 7 Wall Street Journal op-ed article. I followed up another Wall Street Journal piece on this topic co-authored by Shultz and economist Nobel laureate Gary Becker four years ago in my April 16, 2013 Forbes column article titled " "Carbon Tax . . . Are Republicans Really That Stupid?"
Shultz and Becker began by saying "Americans like to compete on a level playing field to win on competitive merits."
They went on to argue that the way to flatten that turf is to tax what they described as a "major pollutant" in order to "encourage producers and consumers to shift towards energy sources that emit less carbon — such as gas-fired power plants and away from coal-fired plants — and generate greater demand for electric and flex-fuel cars and lesser demand for conventional gasoline-powered cars."
And you thought income redistribution was just a liberal Democrat thing?
Sadly, they aren’t the only prominent and often brilliant conservatives who seem to have sampled the carbon tax Kool Aid. Even former Reagan administration economist Arthur Laffer has said he would support such a tax in exchange for a payroll or income tax reduction.
When I later pointed out during a cordial discussion with Laffer that such a plan was absolutely baseless with regard to any climate benefits, he admitted that this was a subject he would have to defer to his "good friend Al Gore" for advice.
Art subsequently reported that he sent Gore a copy of my first book on the topic titled “Climate of Corruption; Politics and Power behind the Global Warming Hoax". It was dedicated to Al for having "invented the Internet which made the book possible and the facts that made it necessary."
Disappintedly, I never heard back whether or not he liked it.
In any case, carbon tax schemes can also bring big political costs. A "BTU" tax gambit attempted by the Clinton administration would have imposed burdens upon every segment of the economy. Its public unpopularity produced what might be termed a "teachable moment." One year later, in November of 1994, Republicans took over control of the House for the first time in decades.
As the great English writer Samuel Johnson observed, "There is nothing like a hanging to concentrate the mind."
Washington State considered a carbon tax on the 2016 ballot. Powerful environmental lobbies including the Sierra Club, Washington Environmental Council.
Climate Solutions, and Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy rejected it because the new revenue generated wouldn’t be earmarked for other green energy initiatives they wanted.
That same year, the U.S. House of Representatives followed suit in opposing a national carbon tax. Lawmakers voted 237-163 to pass a resolution declaring that such a tax would be "detrimental to American families and businesses, and is not in the best interest of the United States."
Penalizing fossils which provide about 85 percent of U.S. energy in favor of far more costly non-alternatives is a recipe for economic and social disaster.
Such policies, driven by climate alarmism, green crony capitalism, and visions of transforming America into a European-style welfare state, should not be countenanced by any authentic conservative. Doing so will serve up a toxic mixture of socialist brew.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of “Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom”(2015) and “Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax” (2012). Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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