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By John Kartch – Americans for Tax Reform

As they assume control of the House, Democrats are pushing a carbon tax as part of a “Green New Deal.” A carbon tax means new hard power for the federal government. It means more taxpayer money flowing to Washington. It means everything will cost more.

This will turn off voters, and that’s why Democrats will pull out all the stops to get Republican fingerprints on a carbon tax in 2019. Democrats will work with a compliant media to kick up a dust cloud labeled “bipartisanship” in the hopes voters won’t know who to blame.

All Republicans should steer clear.

A carbon tax is both bad policy and bad politics. As a simultaneous tax and spending hike, carbon taxes raise the cost of living and hit lower-income workers and small businesses hard. They give the government more control over private decisions.

It’s no wonder all but six House Republicans voted for a resolution noting a carbon tax is detrimental to the U.S. economy. Only seven Democrats supported the resolution.

There is a clear contrast between the two parties, and voters favor the Republican position.

The sprawling carbon-tax-industrial-complex of left-wing “green” groups, complete with highly compensated marquee lobbyists with an “R” after their name (Trent Lott) will, therefore, come knocking on certain gullible Republican doors in January.

The groups will promise things: glowing press coverage, support in the next campaign, happy constituents waving carbon tax “dividend” checks, adulation from the establishment as a deep thinker, invitations to Aspen.

Outside D.C.’s walled garden, the two-in-one combined potency of an energy issue with a tax issue has produced a consistent rejection of carbon taxes by voters, even in blue states.

Voters oppose carbon taxes and the politicians who push them year after year.

In 2016, true blue Washington state voters overwhelmingly voted down a carbon tax ballot measure. In 2018, carbon tax organizers thought they were clever rebranding it as a “carbon fee” but voters rejected it once again.

In Bernie Sanders territory, blue Vermont voters in 2016 elected anti-carbon tax Republican Phil Scott as Governor instead of pro-carbon tax Democrat Sue Minter. In 2010, Republican primary voters kicked carbon tax-supporting congressman Bob Inglis out of office, choosing Trey Gowdy as his replacement.

This year Florida Republican Carlos Curbelo introduced a carbon tax bill at a much-hyped event at the National Press Club. The bill is a large tax hike which gives broad new power to federal bureaucrats. It would increase household costs and harm economic growth.

While sitting in a comfortable chair on stage, Curbelo even acknowledged the bill would cause some people to lose their jobs. He said, “We have a fund in place to help those individuals get retrained and find other work.” Who doesn’t love being retrained?

Curbelo promised that if re-elected he would travel the country touting his carbon tax plan. He received predictable praise from the beltway press. Just as predictably, “green” members of the carbon tax-industrial complex attacked him in the election for his “failure to be a true climate champion.” Curbelo lost while Florida Republicans won tough races for the governorship and U.S. Senate.

Vanity left-wing billionaire Tom Steyer, a key funder of the carbon tax cause, piled on last week. At the UN climate confab, he called Curbelo a “pretend environmentalist.”

For any wavering Republican congressman, Canada offers further warnings against a carbon tax. In June, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne went down in the worst defeat of a governing party in modern Ontario history. Wynne was in favor of a carbon tax and decisively lost to the conservative Doug Ford, who ran on abolishing the carbon tax. Ford made an explicit, written promise to the voters that he would end the carbon tax if elected.

The carbon tax has proven so expensive that a Canadian school district was forced to end school bus service for 400 kids. An audit showed the carbon tax cost the district $3.3 million last year. As reported by the Calgary Herald, one local school official said:

It’s a bit challenging that we’re in a situation where we’ve had to remove almost 400 students from buses in order to pay for the carbon tax in addition to the other impacts on the organization.

Pictures of school kids kicked off buses are nowhere to be found in the glossy carbon tax brochure that will be placed into Republican hands in January.

A common feature of carbon tax bills is a continually ratcheting increase of the tax burden each year. This allows politicians to impose a tax increase without having to vote on it every year.

The tax ratchet is a key feature of the French carbon tax, the spark of the Yellow Vest protests. In 2019, the diesel tax was set to rise by 6.5 cents per liter, and the fuel tax was set to rise by 2.9 cents per liter. This was on top of the carbon tax hikes that took effect in 2018: a tax hike of 7.6 cents per liter on diesel and a hike of 3.9 cents per liter of fuel.

French President Emmanuel Macron was very proud to impose the tax hikes as part of his carbon agenda, but the blowback was so strong he rescinded them.

The carbon tax industrial complex is well-funded and omnipresent in D.C. They’ll deploy phalanxes of lobbyists to Republican offices. They’ll host panels and attempt to create an aura of inevitability. Media sirens will wail. Republicans, keep your fingerprints off.

 John Kartch (@JohnKartch) is vice president of communications at Americans for Tax Reform, a nonprofit group dedicated to lower taxes and limited government.