A group of RINO (Republican in Name Only) dinosaurs (i.e. RINOsaurs) have come out of retirement to lobby President Trump on the insane idea of a so-called “carbon tax.” Two of them were from the Ronald Reagan Administration–George Shultz and James Baker III. (As an aside, when Baker was Chief of Staff for Ronald Reagan, he was an arrogant ass–prancing around the West Wing. We can state this categorically from first-hand experience. MDN editor Jim Willis worked at the White House when Baker was there. Jim can also tell you Baker came from the Bush camp, which today we call the Washington establishment. There was a deep divide in the White House during the Reagan years between the “Bushies” who were establishment types, and true-conservative “Reaganites.” You know which camp Jim belonged to.) A carbon tax is nothing more than a way to slap a regressive tax on every citizen of the country–as if we aren’t already taxed enough. If you live in the great middle class of this country, you already pay close to 50% of your income in various federal, state, local, property, sales and other taxes. Add it up sometime–you’ll see we’re not exaggerating. A group of Republican “elder statesmen” (as fake news source CNN calls them) yesterday met with Team Trump at the White House to push this disastrous plan, calling it (be careful not to vomit), “conservative.” There’s nothing conservative about it…
Here’s how the fake newers at the uber-biased New York Times wrote about it:
A group of Republican elder statesmen is calling for a tax on carbon emissions to fight climate change.
The group, led by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, with former Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Henry M. Paulson Jr., a former secretary of the Treasury, says that taxing carbon pollution produced by burning fossil fuels is “a conservative climate solution” based on free-market principles.
Mr. Baker is scheduled to meet on Wednesday with White House officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, Jared Kushner, the senior adviser to the president, and Gary D. Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, as well as Ivanka Trump.
In an interview, Mr. Baker said that the plan followed classic conservative principles of free-market solutions and small government. He suggested that even former President Ronald Reagan would have blessed the plan: “I’m not at all sure the Gipper wouldn’t have been very happy with this.” He said he had no idea how the proposal would be received by the current White House or Congress.
A carbon tax, which depends on rising prices of fossil fuels to reduce consumption, is supported in general by many Democrats, including Al Gore. Major oil companies, including Exxon Mobil, have come out in favor of the concept as well.
The Baker proposal would substitute the carbon tax for the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, a complex set of rules to regulate emissions which President Trump has pledged to repeal and which is tied up in court challenges, as well as other climate regulations. At an initial price of $40 per ton of carbon dioxide produced, the tax would raise an estimated $200 billion to $300 billion a year, with the rate scheduled to rise over time.
The tax would be collected where the fossil fuels enter the economy, such as the mine, well or port; the money raised would be returned to consumers in what the group calls a “carbon dividend” amounting to an estimated $2,000 a year for the average family of four.
The plan would also incorporate what are known as “border adjustments” to increase the costs for products from other countries that do not have a similar system in place, an idea intended to address the problem of other “free-rider” nations gaining a price advantage over carbon-taxed domestic goods. The proposal would also insulate fossil fuel companies against possible lawsuits over the damage their products have caused to the environment.
Attacks on the plan can be expected from many quarters, even among supporters of a carbon tax in theory. Supporters of the Clean Power Plan are likely to oppose its repeal. Democrats also tend to oppose limitations on the right to sue like those envisioned in the Baker proposal. And the idea of a dividend will no doubt anger those in the environmental movement who would prefer to see the money raised by the tax used to promote renewable energy and other new technologies to reduce emissions.
It is also unclear how the plan will be received by the Trump administration. Stephen K. Bannon, the senior counselor to the president, has shown little interest in appeasing establishment Republicans. Breitbart News, which Mr. Bannon led before joining the Trump White House staff, has been outspoken in denying the science of climate change.
Whatever the fate of the plan, it is a notable moment because it puts influential members of the Republican establishment on the record as favoring action on climate change — a position that is publicly held by few Republicans at the national level, though many quietly say they would like to throw off the orthodoxy in the party that opposes action.
“This represents the first time Republicans put forth a concrete, market-based climate solution,” said Ted Halstead, an author of the paper and social entrepreneur whose organization, the Climate Leadership Council, is posting the memo outlining the plan. Mr. Halstead, who also founded the New America research institute, said the political left and right had stalled on climate action in part because they disagreed about the means to fixing the problem, even though they might find common ground.
Some popular environmentalists take stands that those on the right can never embrace, Mr. Halstead said, citing the works of Naomi Klein, who attacks capitalism itself as the root of climate change. “That is so at odds with the conservative worldview, of course they’re going to walk away,” he said. “The only way for this solution to come about is if it gets a start on the right.”
The other co-authors of the memo include N. Gregory Mankiw and Martin Feldstein, former chairmen of the Council of Economic Advisers, and Rob Walton, the former chairman of Wal-Mart.
Mr. Baker said it was time for the Republican Party to engage in the discussion of global warming beyond simple denial.
“It’s really important that we Republicans have a seat at the table when people start talking about climate change,” Mr. Baker said. He said that, like many Republicans, he was skeptical that human activity was the main cause of warming, but that the stakes were too high for inaction. “I don’t accept the idea that it’s all man made,” he said, “but I do accept that the risks are sufficiently great that we need to have an insurance policy.”
As for the likelihood of success of his plan, “I have no idea what the prospects are.” (1)
We can tell you what the prospect are Mr. Baker: ZERO. This plan is so wrong in so many ways, not the least of which it infringes on our RIGHT to select the energy source of our own choosing. Whatever you tax, you get less of. We want MORE use of fossil fuels, not less! Fossil fuels are not evil, they are not killing the planet, they are not toasting Mom Earth. When will this insanity end!
Here’s how the fake newers at the Washington Post spun the news:
Representatives from a coalition of veteran Republican officials — including five who have either served as treasury secretary or as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers — met Wednesday with White House officials to discuss the idea of imposing a national carbon tax, rather than using federal regulations, to address climate change.
The newly formed Climate Leadership Council — which includes James A. Baker, Henry Paulson, George P. Shultz, Marty Feldstein and Greg Mankiw — is proposing elimination of nearly all of the Obama administration’s climate policies in exchange for a rising carbon tax that starts at $40 per ton, and is returned in the form of a quarterly check from the Social Security Administration to every American.
“I really don’t know the extent to which it is man-made, and I don’t think anybody can tell you with certainty that it’s all man-made,” Baker said in an interview with The Washington Post. However, he also said, “the risk is sufficiently strong that we need an insurance policy and this is a damn good insurance policy.”
Despite the group’s impeccable Republican credentials — Baker, Paulson and Schultz served as treasury secretaries and Feldstein and Mankiw served as CEA chairs under GOP presidents — the proposal faces long odds. Many congressional Republicans are adamantly against a tax increase of any kind, and President Trump repeatedly emphasized that he is far more interested in promoting the extraction of fossil fuels in the United States than curbing the nation’s carbon emissions.
A proposed carbon tax also failed recently in a ballot initiative in Washington state, in part because it divided the left — with some liberals wanting to use any revenue to invest in clean energy and other social causes rather than to return it to the public.
Baker and his colleagues met Wednesday with Gary Cohn, head of Trump’s National Economic Council, and spoke more briefly with White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway.
Asked about the proposal and Wednesday’s meeting, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said, “We have nothing to announce on that.”
Another White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations, said that it would be premature to conclude that the administration was embracing the idea of a carbon tax. “Secretary Baker is obviously a distinguished public servant with a wealth of experience,” the official said. “This morning is one of many listening meetings the administration is having with experts on a variety of issues and does not represent any eventual policy decision one way or the other.”
Vice President Pence’s spokesman, Marc Lotter, said that Baker had requested the meeting over the weekend when he and Pence ran into each other at the Super Bowl on Sunday. “The Secretary mentioned going to the White House, and the vice president asked him to pop by his office while he is here,” Lotter said. (The two ultimately did not meet due to a “scheduling conflict,” Lotter said.)
As for how the idea would be received politically, Baker told The Post: “I have no idea, but it is a good proposal, it’s simple, it’s conservative, it’s free market, it’s limited government.”
Supporters of the group’s proposal include Ted Halstead, who founded the Climate Leadership Council and the New America Foundation; Rob Walton, former chairman of the board of Walmart; and Thomas Stevenson, a U.S. ambassador to Portugal under George W. Bush.
The revenue-neutral “carbon fee and dividend” tax, as it is sometimes called, has been popular among economists for years. It has also been strongly embraced by some leading climate scientists, such as former NASA researcher James Hansen, and such advocacy groups as Citizens’ Climate Lobby. But never before have major Republican statesmen from past administrations aligned behind it as publicly as they’re doing now.
Baker and his colleagues estimate that the average family of four would receive $2,000 annually in dividends from the fee if it starts at $40 per ton, and as the tax rises, so would their dividends. This would naturally create a constituency for ever-tougher climate change action. They also assert that the proposal would be fundamentally progressive because everyone would receive the same amount of revenue from the tax regardless of their income level, meaning the new source of income would make a bigger difference for poorer people than for wealthier ones.
Finally, they suggest it’s a needed compromise. “We have a regulatory left and a deregulatory right that are far, far apart,” said Mankiw. “Both should acknowledge they’re not going to have control forever.” (2)
RINOsaurs Baker and Shultz wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, which you can read here: A Conservative Answer to Climate Change.
Roger Simon, writing on PJMedia, did a great job in debunking this latest lunacy: Inconvenient Truth: Shultz and Baker’s Disastrously Mistimed Carbon Tax.
It’s time for the RINOsaurs to trundle back to the golf course on the private islands where they hang out, and leave common sense governing to President Trump. We elected Trump to bounce the establishment (people like Baker and Shultz) out of power.
(1) New York (NY) Times (Feb 7, 2017) – ‘A Conservative Climate Solution’: Republican Group Calls for Carbon Tax
(2) Washington (DC) Post (Feb 8, 2017) – Senior Republican statesmen propose replacing Obama’s climate policies with a carbon tax