Carbon tax graphic

Anti-Carbon Tax Bill Revived For Debate In Congress By Republican House Members

By Lynda Bryant-Work

Two House Republicans have revived an old but ongoing issue and introduced a resolution condemning the idea of a carbon tax.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and West Virginia Rep. David McKinley filed H. CON. RES. 119 on April 28 saying a tax on carbon dioxide emissions would “be detrimental to American families and businesses and is not in the best interest of the United States.”

McKinley and Scalise outlined the dangers to the American economy in the resolution stating a carbon tax would increase energy prices, including the cost of gasoline, electricity, natural gas and home heating oil. Additionally, a carbon tax would drive the prices up on food and other essential items, as well as leading to jobs and businesses moving overseas.

Given the United States has an economy based on fossil fuel energy, the resolution is pretty accurate. The carbon tax is a tax on energy production that fuels the livelihoods of most Americans and would be hit on virtually everything they do. The costs are real, and very crippling.

Reducing carbon dioxide to a taxable good means the subjection of nearly every facet of human existence to taxation.

No Carbon Tax photo
Opponants to a carbon tax are weighing in on the economic impact to the cost of living, jobs and other vital and essential services.

What exactly is a carbon tax?

Advocates sell it as an economically painless “market” mechanism for addressing a compelling public problem — in this case, climate change. It’s based on the notion that free markets fail to account for broader social costs.

Translated, what a person pays for a piece of fruit does not account for the carbon emissions involved in growing, harvesting or transport, and those emission might have a negative effect on society.

Sen. Bernie Sanders is for carbon taxes and has legislation labeled the “Climate Protection and Justice Act” to justify taxing Americans for literally everything.

But what the carbon tax advocates are missing is that carbon isn’t a commodity and it is not a form of injustice. Chemically, carbon is one of the building-blocks of life. Without it, people, animals and plants would not survive. Economically, carbon-based fuels have supported economic prosperity since the Industrial Revolution.

The effect of a carbon tax are readily observable in Europe where high prices of basic goods are forcing people to choose between food and heating the home.  In Germany, many have resorted to burning wood for fuel because in the European Union courts, firewood is considered as biomass and carbon-neutral.

But it isn’t – indoor burning of wood releases more carbon dioxide than burning coal. 

MIT economist and professor Robert Pindyck states a carbon tax would be detrimental and the benefits purely subjective.
MIT economist and professor Robert Pindyck states a carbon tax would be detrimental and the benefits purely subjective.

Literally, European taxes meant to reduce carbon dioxide emissions are encouraging even more of its release in homes desperate to stay warm.

Another downside to a carbon tax, it will give those who seeking to crush competition an unfair advantage in the marketplace. Big corporations and big industries can bear the costs imposed by a carbon tax, which they pass along to consumers. Their smaller competitors, hit harder by the costs of compliance, might not. Only the huge and politically connected survive; the small businesses and consumers lose.

Supporters of the tax say it would be a market-based solution to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions and fight climate change. It could also raise revenue used to reduce the deficit or cut other taxes.

The key points are:

  • A carbon tax is a government-set price on carbon dioxide emissions.
  • An assumption for a carbon tax is the price paid for a final good does not reflect the supposed social cost from carbon dioxide emissions released producing the good.
  • Congress and state legislatures are being asked to not shackle prosperity with a carbon tax because of its flaws, and because it results in costly economic and environmental effects.

According to a statement made by Scalise, “Our resolution will affirm the position of Congress that a carbon tax would run counter to the goals of American energy dominance and national security.”

The resolution is endorsed by a coalition of conservative groups that includes Americans for Tax Reform, FreedomWorks and Tea Party Nation.  The groups said in a letter that a carbon tax would undo many of the benefits of the GOP’s new tax law, and reverse many of these successes.

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