A ‘Conservative Case’ for Carbon Taxes That Isn’t

One of the conservative movement’s biggest defeats over the past two decades has been its failure to strip the gears of the climate-change propaganda machine.

With few exceptions—among them the Heartland Institute, former Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas), and a handful of conservative commentators—Republicans surrendered to the climate cabal’s 20-year rampage in our public schools, the news media, and statehouses from coast to coast.

K-12 school textbooks now are filled with dire predictions about anthropogenic global warming and college campuses administer nonstop brainwashing on the subject while dedicating enormous amounts of publicly funded “research” to give an academic mooring to climate hysteria. Young people are suffering from any number of climate-fueled panic disorders as mental health professionals figure out how they, too, can cash in on the climate racket.

President Obama called climate change a bigger global threat than Islamic terrorism; his political progeny now are foot-stomping their way around Capitol Hill wielding copies of the Green New Deal while his wannabe successors embarrass themselves during cable news forums and campaign events by proposing outlandish solutions to anthropogenic global warming.

This political phenomenon took hold as Republicans either sat idle or were coaxed into acquiescence by climate bullies—that is, until President Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord and empowered his Republican administration to dismantle President Obama’s climate legacy as quickly as possible.

Republicans Prepare to Sell Out (As Usual)

But Republicans again are huddling with the profligate climate cabal as they wheedle for a spot at the abundant climate trough. Some Republican lawmakers, at the behest of party elders such as Jim Baker and George Shultz, have signaled their support for carbon tax legislation ostensibly to help curb carbon emissions, all under the mantle of “convervative” leadership.

“Climate change policy may be in for a softer, less polarized atmosphere with Republicans and Democrats teaming up on a flotilla of legislation to tax carbon emissions and decarbonize American industries,” Roll Call reported in July.

This latest climate capitulation from the Right comes courtesy of the Climate Leadership Council. Led by Bush family loyalists, including Baker, Shultz, Henry Paulson, Ben Bernanke, and Christine Todd Whitman, the CLC is touting a “conservative case” on how to mitigate climate change—but it is far from conservative.

(And I’m not sure rank-and-file conservatives would not consider the same folks who brought us the 2008 financial crisis and government bail-out to be actual “conservatives.” Or a former Bush-era EPA administrator—Whitman—who opposes any reform at the EPA and is a vocal climate-change propagandist.)

The proposal, centered around the “Baker-Shultz Carbon Dividends Plan,” reads like a slightly more sophisticated version of a Twitter meltdown by Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.). The authors scold Republicans for not taking action on climate change and “fostering a needless climate divide between the GOP and the scientific, business, military, religious, civic, and international mainstream.” (This is a polite of blasting conservatives for rejecting the alleged “consensus” on man-made climate change.)

The plan promises to boost the fortunes of poor Americans at the expense of rich ones while appealing to young people and minorities. It justifies its command-and-control diktat by insisting the world needs to prepare for a low-carbon energy future. If successful, the plan pledges to reduce carbon emissions even lower than the targets set by Obama’s Paris climate deal. (Nothing screams conservative more than “we’ll out-Obama Obama!”)

And the Baker-Shultz plan even takes a swipe at nationalism and condemns the “dangerous force” of populism in our politics.

Big Oil Backs the Plan

If that doesn’t sound bad enough, the lobbying effort is being underwritten by a collection of strange climate bedfellows including ExxonMobil, Shell Oil, General Motors, Microsoft, the Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund—all dedicated to helping you, the hardworking American, honor your commitment to a healthier planet. “These dividends are not giveaways; they would be earned based on the good behavior of minimizing our carbon footprints.”

Nervous yet?

Here’s the gist: The federal government would collect a tax of at least $40 per ton of carbon, which would increase over time. That bounty would be laundered through the Social Security Administration; anyone with a valid Social Security number (Ha!) would receive a quarterly payment called a “dividend” instead of a “bribe,” because here’s the deal: In exchange for pushing this “grand bargain,” as the promoters call it, federal regulations on carbon emissions would be phased-out and fossil fuel companies would be indemnified from lawsuits related to damages allegedly caused by carbon emissions.

The proposal’s influential Beltway lobbyists are former Senate Republican Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and former Senator John Breaux (D-La.). Top funders include ExxonMobil ($1 million) and ConocoPhillips ($2 million). (The carbon tax is heavily weighted against coal companies and in favor of Big Oil and Gas.)

The firm founded by longtime GOP pollster Frank Luntz, once a climate skeptic, is on board the climate gravy train, presenting polling data to reluctant Republicans that show a carbon tax is a political winner. (In an odd move, Luntz distanced himself from his former firm’s work with the CLC when he testified before a congressional committee over the summer in support of climate action.)

Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah), whose position on human-caused climate change has shifted with the prevailing political winds (especially if it makes a headwind for Donald Trump), is considering sponsoring a bill to impose a carbon tax.

“Taxes have never been my intent, but we’ll see what he has to say,” Romney told E&E News. “I would very much like to see us reduce our carbon emissions globally, and we’ll see if this might help.”

A Fool’s Errand

This is no time for Republicans, particularly those who consider themselves conservatives, to play footsie with the climate cabal. Since taking over Congress earlier this year, the Democrats have done what Republicans failed to do for more than two decades: Expose the sinister agenda behind the climate change crusade, which has nothing to do with the environment and everything to do with control.

As Democratic presidential candidates try to outdo each other to come up with the most far-fetched, oppressive and expensive ideas to stop icebergs from melting, Republicans should—to use a favorite term of the media’s—”pounce” on the origins of the climate change crusade. This is a unique and fleeting opportunity to attempt to undo the damage caused by the Republicans’ flat-footed challenge to climate propagandists, and tell the public the truth.

But it’s unlikely, aside from Trump and a few bold lawmakers, they will.

“The carbon tax is a fool’s errand that will raise consumer prices without improving the weather or climate,” Steve Milloy, author of Scare Pollution and founder of junkscience.com, told me by email. “Republicans who support such measures are being played as useful idiots by the Democrats.”

As Congress goes back into session this week and lawmakers prepare for next year’s election, we will see how many “useful idiots” the Republican caucus houses. My guess is, plenty.

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