Conservative Groups Stand Against Carbon Tax
by Jason Hopkins
A coalition of conservative and free-market think tanks are heaping praise on an anti-carbon tax resolution that was recently introduced in the lower chamber of Congress.
Americans for Tax Reform, along with more than 20 like-minded organizations, issued a joint statement Thursday in support of a House resolution that explicitly condemns a tax on carbon dioxide pollution. Majority Whip Steve Scalise and West Virginia Rep. David McKinley introduced the nonbinding resolution. The one-page resolution states that “a carbon tax would be detrimental to American families and businesses, and is not in the best interest of the United States.”
The idea of a carbon tax — a charge levied on companies according to the amount of CO2 they emit into the atmosphere — has been recommended as a possible alternative to strict regulations. Liberal lawmakers and a handful of environmentally-minded Republicans have pushed such proposals.
The purpose of Thursday’s resolution is to get lawmakers on record as opposed to a carbon tax, according to Scalise. The Louisiana Republican argues that a carbon tax would largely undo progress the U.S. has made toward energy supremacy.
“Working with President Trump, this Congress is leading America toward energy dominance and strong economic growth, yet some liberal Washington special interests continue to pursue a radical agenda that includes imposing a job-killing carbon tax, which would raise costs on everything we buy from electricity and gasoline to food and everyday household products,” Scalise said Thursday as he introduced the resolution.
Others agree. A total of 26 like-minded organizations signed and published a letter in support of the majority whip’s resolution, adding that such a tax would all but erase the economic benefits made after the passage of GOP tax reform in 2017.
“The undersigned organizations urge you to support the concurrent resolution, introduced by Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Congressman David McKinley (R- W.Va), which expresses the sense of the Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to the U.S. economy,” wrote the coalition of conservative groups, and published the same day the resolution was introduced. “We oppose any carbon tax. We oppose a carbon tax because it would lead to less income and fewer jobs for American families.”
In addition to Americans for Tax Reform, Americans for Prosperity, Competitive Enterprise Institute, FreedomWorks, Tea Party Nation, and several others signed the letter. The memorandum also listed the groups’ findings of what would likely happen if a carbon tax was enacted and warned of massive job losses and a heavy drop in GDP.
“For example, a 2014 Heritage Foundation report found that a $37 per ton carbon tax would lead to a loss of more than $2.5 trillion in aggregate gross domestic product by 2030. That is more than $21,000 in income loss per family,” the letter claimed. “In addition, a carbon tax would cost over 500,000 jobs in manufacturing and more than 1 million jobs by 2030. According to a 2013 CBO report, a carbon tax is highly regressive.”
However, carbon tax opponents should have little cause for worry. Energy dominance has been a cornerstone of the Trump administration’s agenda. President Donald Trump, who has worked prolifically on rolling back environmental regulations, is not inclined to levy a new tax on fossil fuel companies.
Despite the president’s energy agenda, and most congressional Republicans standing firmly against the idea of a carbon tax, there are still some that argue a carbon tax is a conservative solution to fighting climate change. Alex Flint, the executive director of the Alliance for Market Solutions, is among them.
“Those who oppose a carbon tax are rallying their defenses for a reason: they see supporters gaining momentum,” Flint stated to the Washington Examiner in a report published Friday. “A revenue-neutral carbon tax that replaces burdensome regulations is a good, conservative idea. It is much more efficient than regulations, and the revenue can be used to reduce other taxes and grow the economy. We recognize the politics today are difficult, but they are going to change.”
Alliance for Market Solutions isn’t the only conservative organization aimed at wooing Republicans into reducing carbon pollution. Other GOP-affiliated groups, such as ConservAmerica and republicEn, have pressured the White House and congressional Republicans to embrace carbon taxes as a free market strategy to address climate change.
If Scalise’s resolution passes, it would not come without precedent. The House of Representatives passed a similar version in June 2016, earning six Democratic votes and no Republicans opposition. Scalise was the sponsor of that resolution as well.
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A carbon tax on it’s own would be detrimental but a carbon tax that returned the revenue in the form of monthly dividend payments or reductions in other taxes is a good idea. It’s a market based insurance policy for the risk of greenhouse gas pollution and based on solid conservative principles that it shouldn’t be free to pollute the air and water. I can’t think of a single conservative who would argue that it’s okay to dump my waste on my neighbors as long as I’m making more money than they are losing by having to clean up the mess.
There’s some good modeling out there that sending carbon fee revenue back to households as tax breaks or monthly payments would actually grow the economy and add jobs as most people would actually come out ahead financially and have more money to spend. The conservative Climate Leadership Council’s proposal is very good and has the backing of over 27 College Republican groups, Exxon Mobile, BP, GM, and a who’s who of former Republican cabinet members.
I’d like to hear what Scalise and these other conservative organizations preferred response to the risk of greenhouse gas pollution is. If they are poo-pooing the most efficient, effective, and fair way to reduce that risk then I guess they are either okay with the status quo of free pollution and socializing the costs on taxpayers or they prefer regulations and other inefficient measures.