A Free-Market Energy Blog

Carbon Tax: Vote and Eviscerate (depoliticize, not repoliticize, energy)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- June 20, 2013

“The American people and the 133 cosponsors of this concurrent resolution understand that a carbon tax is not about protecting the environment, but rather it is a cynical attempt to raise revenue for Washington’s insatiable appetite for more and more spending.”

Federal carbon-dioxide cap-and-trade legislation was defeated in 2009 with no prospect of a retry. Now, the even less popular carbon tax is being floated by non-conservatives and wannabe-be conservatives as somehow “free market” and “efficient.” This very well financed desperado push needs a reality check in Congress.

Any new qualitative tax, and certainly one as huge and far reaching as this one, is an open sesame to bigger government and politicized energy. Some argue that there is a “free market” case for a carbon levy, but there is not a “limited government’ case. There is a big difference between assumption-driven “in theory” and real-world “in practice.”

It is a “pipedream,” to use Marlo Lewis’s word, to believe that politicians will not offset but use this huge new revenue stream ($100–200 billion annually) to avoid spending cuts and to introduce new programs. And as Lewis goes on to argue, the carbon tax fails as economic, environmental, and climate policy.

It is time to put this proposal out of its misery. Resources on both sides of the debate need to go in other directions.

It is time for a floor vote in the House of Representatives on the carbon tax to put this proposal out of its misery. We need to move on to fundamental change of the tax code that is not energy-tax-specific and not anti-energy driven. 

To this end, the following June 12th coalition letter was sent on June 12, 2013, to House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

On behalf of the millions of members and supporters of our respective organizations, we write to strongly urge a floor vote on the concurrent resolution, H. Con. Res. 24, expressing the sense of Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to the United States economy. The last thing that Americans want today is a higher tax burden, and that is exactly what a carbon tax is.

A carbon tax would be a new, broad-based source of revenue to enable ever-growing federal spending. The federal tax system has never yielded more than 21 percent of gross domestic product in total revenue. A carbon tax would, like a value-added tax, take productive capital away from Americans and instead enable a permanent increase in the size of the federal government. Increasing the size of the federal government will only slow economic growth.

While the White House publicly denies plans to propose a carbon tax, there are thousands of internal Treasury Department documents discussing the issue that the administration refuses to release to the public. Their secrecy in these matters is extremely troubling.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee recently introduced carbon tax legislation, there have been persistent rumors that such a tax could be included in a secretly negotiated deficit-reduction package, and there are rumors of attempts to include a carbon tax in a debt ceiling agreement.

A carbon tax would increase energy prices by design, exacerbating pain at the pump and raising the price of electricity and home heating fuels. The poorest Americans would be hit the hardest because they spend the largest share of their income on energy. People on fixed incomes would take a terrible financial hit as they would be forced to pay more for energy.

According to a recent study by the National Association of Manufacturers, under a popular carbon tax proposal, output could drop by as much as 15 percent in energy-intensive sectors of our economy and 7.7 percent in non-energy intensive sectors, destroying millions of jobs.

Even the Europeans are moving away from deliberately making energy more expensive as the economic toll from their disastrous policies becomes clearer. The U.S. should learn from these failed policies, not embrace them.

The American people and the 133 cosponsors of this concurrent resolution understand that a carbon tax is not about protecting the environment, but rather it is a cynical attempt to raise revenue for Washington’s insatiable appetite for more and more spending.

Supporters claim that a carbon tax would not increase taxes since revenues would be offset by reductions elsewhere, but careful analysis shows what the American people instinctively know to be true—new taxes always lead to a higher tax burden for Americans, regardless of promises that are made about “revenue neutrality”.

Under these circumstances, it is critical for the House to take a clear and unequivocal stand that it understands how economically destructive a carbon tax would be. We therefore urge a Floor vote on the carbon tax resolution and urge your support.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

60 Plus Association – American Commitment – American Conservative Union – American Energy Alliance – Americans for Limited Government – Americans for Prosperity – Americans for Tax Reform – American Tradition Institute – Caesar Rodney Institute – Competitive Enterprise Institute – FreedomWorks – Freedom Action – Frontiers of Freedom – George C. Marshall Institute – Heartland Institute – Heritage Action – Independent Women’s Forum – National Center for Public Policy Research – Positive Growth Alliance – Taxpayers Protection Alliance


  1. Don Bishop  

    Green based energy policies are economically suicidal. The UK and Germany have deliberately raised electricity prices, while US prices have declined, helping our economy.

    From Bloomberg:

    “Electricity in the U.K. is poised to cost almost twice as much as in Germany within two years as Britain lags behind in building solar and wind plants.

    U.K. power will be 85 percent more expensive than in Europe’s biggest energy market in May 2015, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That compares with an average premium of 17 percent over the past five years and 80 percent today, data from Marex Spectron Group Ltd., a broker in London, show.”


    “The lower German prices are no comfort for the 40 million households in Europe’s biggest economy. Retail prices have risen 17 percent since the end of 2009, according to Eurostat data compiled by Bloomberg Industries. The nation has the highest residential costs in Europe after Denmark as utilities pass on the costs of solar and wind generation, Jonathan Lane, head of consulting for power and utilities at GlobalData, a London-based researcher, said by phone on June 12. ”



  2. Ed Reid  


    I question referring to Waxman-Markey, Kerry-Lieberman or Kerry-Boxer as “cap & trade”. Yes, the bills included both a cap and the ability to trade, but they were “Christmas trees” which also included tax and spend and redistribute and pick winners and losers. I have suggested here previously that the primary focus of the congressional discussion of these bills centered around the expected revenues from the sales of emissions allowances and the various projects which would be funded with these revenues. But then, the focus of the UN climate change effort has shifted from climate to income and wealth redistribution.


  3. Ken Langford  

    Last month California’s governor was the first politician to show us the true purpose of cap and trade. He raided the people’s enviro-funds to fund government projects (growth). This is the true purpose of cap and trade folks.



  4. Dr. James H. Rust  

    Great work on attempting to get this stupid carbon tax off the table. Congressman Inglis was shown the door by a South Carolina Republican primary 71 to 29 because he was not a conservative.

    James Rust, Professor


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