It is not surprising that there are liberals in Washington proposing new stealth carbon taxes. What is surprising is that a few “conservatives” support the idea. Even more inexplicable is the fact that some have called the carbon tax a “once in a generation opportunity.”
Let me see if I’ve got this right. A huge, gargantuan tax increase — one that would make everything cost more — is a “once in a generation opportunity?”
Every single day for the last 30 years and every single day for the next 30 years, liberals will crawl over top of each other to be the first one to sign-on to a new energy tax. This is a deal that liberals will always be willing to give. So why should conservatives rush to accept it now? What makes it a “once in a generation opportunity?” Nothing. The Left will always support a tax increase. Always.
Here’s the truth about carbon taxes. They require that energy companies pay a tax based on the carbon content of the fuel. Thus energy generated from coal or refined from oil or produced from natural gas or using anything that creates carbon dioxide. That means that electricity will be heavily taxed if it is produced from coal, oil or natural gas. Those taxes will be pass along to consumers as part of the price for the energy. If you buy gasoline, you’ll pay a lot extra at the pump. If you heat or cool your home, you’ll pay a lot extra too. If you use the lights or microwave, your electricity bill will go up substantially. If you eat food, you’ll pay more. If you wear clothes, they will cost more. If you buy a computer, smart phone or tablet device, they will also cost more. In fact, if energy is used to produce the item or to transport the item, it will cost more. Quite simply, virtually everything will cost more.
The carbon tax will not be born by energy companies or even primarily the wealthy. It will be born disproportionately by the poor and the middle class.
How would the new taxes be used? To reduce the deficit? Not a chance. There is zero credible evidence that the new taxes would go to pay down the debt. It would simply fund the growth of more government — more bureaucrats and more rules and regulations which would further harm the economy, kill jobs, and reduce opportunity.
The economy is not some theoretical concept or ivory tower idea. A strong economy means that Americans have jobs and growing incomes. It means that families have the resources they need. Conversely a weak economy means fewer jobs, less opportunity, lower incomes and that families must do without.
Too often big government slows the economy by taxing, regulating and spending too much. Those who support more government taxes and spending always argue that government can do something good with the money. But the problem with that argument is that families and businesses can do a lot of good with that money if government doesn’t take it from them. But if government takes more of their income to spend on things that the government claims are useful, families and businesses will have less to spend on the things that really matter to them. Who do you trust to spend your money better? You? Or the government?
Average, everyday Americans — many of whom are struggling to pay their bills — will be the ones who pay carbon taxes. Small businesses will be forced to further downsize which means more unemployed Americans — just so that big government can grow even bigger.
Why any conservative would suggest this is an idea that Americans should rally around defies logic. And why anyone would call this damaging stealth tax a once in a generation opportunity is difficult to grasp.
Americans do not need more taxes. They need more opportunity, jobs and income. They need a government that takes less, and leaves more to be used to build a bright future and a strong economy. That is what conservatives should rally around and that would be a once in a generation opportunity. But backing the carbon taxes makes as much sense as endorsing leprosy.
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George Landrith is the president of Frontiers of Freedom, a public policy think tank devoted to promoting a strong national defense, free markets, individual liberty, and constitutionally limited government. Mr. Landrith is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was Business Editor of the Virginia Journal of Law and Politics. Mr. Landrith was a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia. You can follow George on Twitter @GLandrith.