Representatives from a coalition of veteran Republican officials — including five who have either served as treasury secretary or as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers — met Wednesday with White House officials to discuss the idea of imposing a national carbon tax, rather than using federal regulations, to address climate change.
The newly formed Climate Leadership Council — which includes James A. Baker, Henry Paulson, George P. Shultz, Marty Feldstein and Greg Mankiw — is proposing elimination of nearly all of the Obama administration’s climate policies in exchange for a rising carbon tax that starts at $40 per ton, and is returned in the form of a quarterly check from the Social Security Administration to every American.
“I really don’t know the extent to which it is man-made, and I don’t think anybody can tell you with certainty that it’s all man-made,” Baker said in an interview with The Washington Post. However, he also said, “the risk is sufficiently strong that we need an insurance policy and this is a damn good insurance policy.”
Despite the group’s impeccable Republican credentials — Baker, Paulson and Schultz served as treasury secretaries and Feldstein and Mankiw served as CEA chairs under GOP presidents — the proposal faces long odds. Many congressional Republicans are adamantly against a tax increase of any kind, and President Trump repeatedly emphasized that he is far more interested in promoting the extraction of fossil fuels in the United States than curbing the nation’s carbon emissions.
A proposed carbon tax also failed recently in a ballot initiative in Washington state, in part because it divided the left — with some liberals wanting to use any revenue to invest in clean energy and other social causes rather than to return it to the public.