Last Thursday, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works reported legislation (the Prove It Act) that sets the stage and lays the foundation to impose a carbon dioxide tax on American families, workers, and consumers.
This new energy tax was voted out of committee 14-5, with four Republicans — Senator Kevin Cramer (from North Dakota, an energy producing state), Senator John Boozman (Arkansas), Senator Graham (South Carolina), and, most inexplicably, Senator Cynthia Lummis (from Wyoming, another state that produces energy) — joining ten Democrats to create this new tax.
Five Republicans, led by Senator Capito from West Virginia, voted against the new energy tax.
Like all energy taxes, this one will fall hardest on the poor, the elderly, those on fixed incomes, and local institutions that have limited budgets, like schools and hospitals.
The legislation sponsors, which include Senator Cramer, have tried to disguise the actual intention of the legislation — which is to increase the price of energy and everything grown, made, or transported with energy in an attempt to address global warming — with propaganda about being tough on our trade competitors, including China.
That charade is so embarrassingly thin that even Politico ignored it and declared in a headline: “Senate Committee OKs Carbon Tariff.”
The legislation directs the Team Biden over at the Department of Energy to set up the infrastructure that would be needed to tax imported goods based on their carbon dioxide content. These taxes, which are called tariffs when imposed on imported goods, could be imposed by the executive branch, without any Congressional votes.
The sponsors have tried to argue that those selling these goods into the United States will pay the tax. That’s nonsense.
Buyers — in this case those who import the goods — will pay the tax and the costs will eventually be borne by the same people who ultimately bear every cost — American families, consumers, and businesses.
Moreover, once this Republican-supported carbon dioxide tax is imposed on imported goods, domestic suppliers of the same goods will be able to adjust their prices upwards without facing any market pressure. It is likely that they will do so.
Those who drafted and those who voted for this legislation know that it is a way to create a domestic tax on carbon dioxide without requiring Congress to vote and get on the record one way or the other. They know that this energy tax will hurt the poor, the elderly, those on fixed incomes, and local institutions the most.
They also know that voters are not willing to pay this tax.
Last month, our friends at the American Energy Alliance, in a survey conducted by MWR Strategies — of which this columnist is president — asked 1,600 likely voters in eight swing States how much they would be willing to pay to address climate change. The median response was just $10 a year. More than a third of the respondents — including 17% of Democrats — said that they were unwilling to pay anything at all to address climate change.
When we asked about this particular tax, voters opposed it by almost a 2-1 margin.
This new carbon dioxide tax is intensely unpopular; that’s why its sponsors have shrouded it in a verbal smokescreen about communist China.
The simple truth is that the legislation won’t affect communist China at all. American families, American companies, and American workers will pay this carbon dioxide tax on imported goods. Energy – and everything made, grown, or transported using energy – will become more expensive. Congressional accountability to the voters will continue to erode.
Congressional Republicans should oppose this legislation.
Michael McKenna was a Deputy Assistant to President Trump. He is the co-host of The Unregulated podcast.
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