Fresh from the looming trainwreck that is the deal to increase the debt limit, four Republican senators recently signed onto legislation that would require the Biden administration to study the feasibility of . . . a national tax on energy that would be collected at the gas pump and in electricity and heating bills.
The four Republicans — Senator Cramer (R-ND), Senator Cassidy (R-LA), Senator Graham (R-SC), and Senator Murkowski (R-AK) — joined five Democrats in asking Team Biden to determine the amount of energy used — and carbon dioxide emitted — by various countries in the production of essentially everything that makes modern life possible (aluminum, iron, steel, plastic, crude oil, batteries, etc.).
Eventually, the information would be used to impose tariffs on those countries who — in the view of the Biden crew — emitted too much carbon dioxide while creating those products.
Unfortunately for American consumers — and this is the important part of the story — the process will lead inevitable to the federal government setting a price for carbon dioxide in these United States.
That means only one thing: a nationwide tax on carbon dioxide, which is, of course, really a tax on energy in all its forms. Such a tax would be incredibly regressive, would damage the economy, and make everything grown, made, or moved more expensive.
The sad, sick part of this story is that the Republican senators are fully aware of that conclusion; they are in fact counting on it. Senator Cramer told the Washington Post that: “We spend so much time as Republicans saying hell no to people who want to tax carbon . . . . this is the low-hanging fruit of climate policy or trade policy or whatever you want to call it.”
In short, this is a way to break the bad news of a nationwide energy tax gently to the slow-witted voters who oppose the idea.
Senator Cramer wasn’t done. He told E&E News that: “It’s easier to take a second step once you’ve taken a first step. It can create a little momentum . . . and it gets people thinking about it in a different context than, ‘Oh, my God, it’s a carbon tax.’”
Here’s the problem: Cramer knows what he is proposing will in fact lead us directly to a carbon dioxide/energy tax. He’s counting on voters to be too stupid or too distracted to realize that.
Senator Murkowski was equally chatty with E&E News: “Whether it’s something that would move us in the direction [of] — whether it’s the price on carbon or the border adjustment … I think it’s going to be important to know a little bit more about of the impact of all this.”
Here’s the impact, Senator: Alaskans will pay more for energy and more for everything made or moved with energy.
This is all despite the fact that a recent nationwide survey specifically found that voters by a wide margin (44 percentage points) oppose the federal government imposing a tax on carbon dioxide emissions collected at the gas pump and in heating and utility bills.
Next time you wonder why the Republicans are having such trouble closing the deal with the American people or whether you should you support the party more generally, remember these four senators, this legislation, and think about whether you are in favor of making energy more expensive.
Then contact your Members of Congress and the presidential candidates and let them know how you feel about this truly destructive and pointless idea.
Michael McKenna is the president of MWR Strategies. He was most recently a deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House.
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