97% of House Republicans foolishly reject carbon taxes

Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted on an anti-carbon tax Resolution. The Resolution was introduced by Steve Scalise (R-LA) with essentially the same language as he introduced in 2013 and 2016.

On those past versions, every Republican House member voted against carbon taxes. This time, six Republicans rejected the Resolution and one abstained, voting ‘Present.’ However, 97% of the House Republicans on the floor voted against carbon taxes.

House Democrats have been fairly consistent in their votes on these Resolutions as well. In 2013, 94% voted against the Resolution, and in 2016 and 2018, 96% voted ‘Nay,’ with six to seven pro-fossil fuel Democrats voting ‘Yes.’

The Resolution is wrong – carbon taxes can be good for the economy

The text of the Resolution claims that carbon taxes are necessarily bad for America:

Expressing the sense of Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to the United States economy … [and] to American families and businesses, and is not in the best interest of the United States.

This week’s Resolution ironically came right on the heels of a comprehensive study showing that a carbon tax whose revenues were returned to taxpayers either via rebate checks or by offsetting income taxes would have a negligible impact on the economy – significantly less than the cost of unchecked global warming. In fact, research has shown that it’s global warming that will seriously slow economic growth.

Simply put, the only way to protect the economy is to stop global warming. Accomplishing that will require that virtually every world country implement climate policies aimed at curbing carbon pollution. That was the purpose of the Paris climate accords. Disgracefully, the Trump administration made America the only country in the world whose leadership rejects that international climate agreement. But a carbon tax would be one of the most effective and efficient ways to cut America’s carbon pollution.

The text of the Resolution has it exactly backwards – a carbon tax would help protect the American economy by slowing global warming and its detrimental effects on economic growth.

Cracks in the Republican anti-climate wall

Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) Executive Director Mark Reynolds characterized yesterday’s vote as progress, saying:

The fact that six Republicans voted ‘no’ on an anti-carbon tax resolution is an indication that there are cracks in the wall separating Democrats and Republicans on climate change.

At the CCL blog, Flannery Winchester also noted that the number of co-sponsors on Scalise’s Resolutions dropped from 155 in 2013, to 82 in 2016, to just 48 in 2018. That’s a nearly 70% decline over five years and an encouraging sign that the number of vehement anti-carbon tax members of Congress is dwindling.

Given that the share of the Republican vote against carbon taxes only dropped from 100% in 2016 to 97% in 2018, the cracks are still small, but a crack is better than an unyielding wall of denial. Nevertheless, it’s frustrating that just four of the 43 Republican members of the Climate Solutions Caucusvoted against the Resolution (with one more abstaining by voting ‘Present’). Especially given the conditions under which yesterday’s vote happened:

  1. Most 2018 primary elections are over, so Republican members of Congress don’t need to worry about challenges from the right-wing for another two years.
  2. Climate Solutions Caucus leader Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) plans to introduce a carbon tax bill next week.
  3. CCL volunteers lobbied their members of Congress to vote against the Resolution.
  4. 62% of Trump voters support taxing and/or regulating carbon pollution.
  5. This was a non-binding Resolution that wrongly suggested carbon taxes are necessarily bad.

It really should have been an easy ‘Nay’ vote, and yet only a handful of Republicans voted the right way. Climate Solutions Caucus member Darrell Issa (R-CA) explained his ‘Yes’ vote, saying a “carbon tax isn’t the solution” and that the Caucus should focus on policies that can generate bipartisan support, like energy efficiency programs and keeping nuclear power plants open. 

Those are indeed valid climate policies. They’re also wholly insufficient to tackle global warming, and if Republicans can only support inadequate climate policies, they’re unbefitting the role of governance.

The fossil fuel industry still owns the GOP

The cracks in the wall should be much bigger by now. A new study by Robert Brulle identified why the CCL volunteer lobbying on this Resolution was relatively ineffective:

Click here to read the rest

Posted by dana1981 on Friday, 20 July, 2018

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