by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Thomas Pyle piles up the arguments against a carbon tax in a National Review Online column.
Conservatives have long been the voice for limited government, lower taxes, free markets, and individual liberty. But recently, a small but persistent group of Republicans are trying to persuade conservatives to abandon these principles and embrace a national energy tax.
The idea of taxing carbon isn’t new. Bill Clinton and Al Gore tried to pass a BTU tax in 1993. Its defeat helped usher in a Republican-controlled Congress for the first time in nearly 40 years. In 2009, Barack Obama proposed a cap-and-trade plan that was rejected by a Democratic-controlled Congress. The Democrats ended up losing the House in 2010. More recently, Hillary Clinton’s campaign policy team was reportedly considering a carbon tax.
What is new, however, is that some Republicans are attempting to pass off a carbon tax as a conservative policy. The most recent attempt is from the Climate Leadership Council, a group led by James Baker and George Shultz. The group recently met with the Trump administration to encourage the adoption of a $40-per-ton carbon tax.
My organization, the American Energy Alliance, joined with several conservative leaders in opposition to the Climate Leadership Council’s proposal. In response, Shultz and Ted Halstead, another member of the Council, took to these pages to try to convince conservatives that their proposal is a “free-market” approach to addressing climate change. There is nothing free-market about their massive new tax hike, no matter how they dress it up.
A carbon tax would punish users of natural gas, oil, and coal, which make up 80 percent of the energy we consume. This means that all American families would face higher electricity bills and gasoline prices. In fact, it’s estimated that the Council’s carbon tax would hike gasoline prices by 36 cents per gallon. While everybody will pay more, these hikes would have a disproportionate impact on poor and middle-class families, who spend a higher percentage of their income on energy. It also means Americans would pay more for goods and services across the board.