Trump can save his presidency with a great deal to save the climate

A month into his presidency, Donald Trump already has a minus-8 job approval rating (43% approve, 51% disapprove). Congress has a minus-50 approval rating, and the Republican Party has a minus-14 favorability rating. All are facing widespread protests, marches, and public resistance. Hundreds of concerned constituents have been showing up to town hall events held by Republican Congressmen, like this one with Tom McClintock (R-CA):

His constituents asked McClintock about the current hot-button issues: repealing Obamacare, the border wall, the Muslim ban, and climate change.

The first three topics have strong support from the Republican base, but they’re unpopular among most of the rest of Americans. That’s why Trump’s approval is held afloat by Republican support (about 85% approve), while only 35% of independents and fewer than 10% of Democrats view him favorably. In fact, they view these policies so unfavorably that there are constant mass protests. And then there’s this:

Betting markets think the odds are better that Trump won't last the year than that he'll be re-elected 

Trump and the Republican Party need an issue and a policy that has strong support among all Americans. Climate change and a carbon tax fit the bill perfectly.

Americans - including Republicans - support climate solutions

Surveys by Yale and George Mason universities have shown that Trump voters support taking action to address climate change.

Trump poll

It’s also important to note that only 27% of eligible voters cast their ballots for Trump in 2016; 28% voted for Hillary Clinton, and 40% didn’t vote at all. In a recent nationwide survey, Larry Hamilton at the University of New Hampshire found that 48% of Trump voters think renewable energy should be a higher priority, as do 63–100% from the other groups, including 84% of non-voters. Donald Trump is the president of all Americans, and Americans want climate action.

A revenue-neutral carbon tax would be a great deal

A group of Republican elder statesmen in the Climate Leadership Council recently visited the White House to pitch a revenue-neutral carbon tax policy. The proposal would be a great deal for liberals and conservatives alike – a true bipartisan compromise. It would tax carbon pollution, which would cause fuel and energy prices to rise, but 100% of the revenue would be returned to taxpayers via a periodic (monthly or quarterly) rebate check to offset those costs. And it would be good for the economy.

It’s a tough sell for Republicans in Congress, who rely upon campaign donations from the fossil fuel industry. However, President Trump isn’t beholden to fossil fuel interests. Additionally, many Republican policymakers want to take action to protect the climate. They understand the science, the risks that climate change poses to future generations, and frankly to their own party. But they’re afraid of being primaried like Bob Inglis was. Were Trump to support a carbon tax, it would provide cover for congressional Republicans to follow his lead.

The left torpedoed a similar proposal in the state of Washington in the 2016 election. Those behind the proposition insulted environmental justice groups rather than making the case that the policy would benefit low-income households. Generally speaking, liberals prefer to spend tax revenue on programs to help people and accelerate the transition to a green economy. But low-income households spend a bigger chunk of their income on fuel and energy, so a carbon tax disproportionately impacts them. However, if the revenue is rebated equally to all taxpayers - as the Climate Leadership Council proposed - poorer Americans actually benefit from the carbon tax.

Congressional Democrats are on board with this policy, as are a number of Congressional Republicans, at least in private meetings. And a majority of Americans – including Trump voters – want the government to take action to address climate change. Even though many of those conservatives are unconvinced by climate science, they’re willing to tax and/or regulate carbon pollution to mitigate the risks in case the scientific experts are right. Even most oil companies support a carbon tax.

Congressional Republicans and Donald Trump hate government regulations, including EPA carbon pollution regulations. But repealing those regulations without a replacement won’t make their voters happy, and won’t be able to break through a Senate filibuster in any case.

Scott Pruitt will undoubtedly do what he can to hamper EPA efforts to curb carbon pollution, but he likely won’t be able to accomplish much more than handcuffing the EPA until a new administration is elected and he’s replaced. However, we can’t afford four to eight years of delayed climate action, so replacing those hampered EPA regulations with a robust revenue-neutral, small government, free market carbon tax would be a good deal for both the left and the right.

Can Trump make the deal?

Click here to read the rest

Posted by dana1981 on Wednesday, 22 February, 2017

Creative Commons License The Skeptical Science website by Skeptical Science is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.