But we know that the Obama administration did not try to progress carbon taxes, in their own right, or as a component of some broader tax reform initiative. But for that matter neither did ExxonMobil ,or any of the hydrocarbon elites, ever go beyond advocacy of carbon taxes as high concept to support specific terms that could seriously considered in the US legislative process.
All of which brings us to the current opportunity. The Trump administration’s desire to progress tax reform, and how that can ever be done anywhere close to fiscally responsibly with out some substantial incremental tax revenue. Clearly, carbon taxes can significantly provide that revenue. http://www.rff.org/files/sharepoint/WorkImages/Download/RFF-IB-12-03.pdf Moreover, they should be the preferred carbon policy instrument in any event. If not now for carbon taxes, then when?
To date, there has been no legislative initiative for carbon taxes as the pre-eminent carbon policy instrument in the United States that has had the support of the Congressional leadership of either party. Moreover, none of the hydrocarbon elites have ever promoted a tangible legislative proposal for carbon taxes. And even less surprisingly, none on the left; inclusive of the elites of the US environmental movement, have done so either. One can acknowledge that some Democratic Senators and Congressman have introduced carbon tax proposals, most well known being that by Sen Whitehouse of Rhode Island,https://www.whitehouse.senate.gov/news/release/sens-whitehouse-and-schatz-unveil-carbon-fee-proposal-at-american-enterprise-institute , albeit as complementary carbon policy instrument , with all of the existing array of regulations and mandates at state and federal levels intact. And no explicit linkage to tax reform. But such initiatives had no material legislative consequence, at least to date.
So at this point, where are the hydrocarbon elites in this debate? Who would dispute that this opportunity if the best ever available to materially progress carbon taxes on terms that would make it pre-eminent that thereby deconstruct a web of existing and future carbon regulation and mandates? Moreover, if the US were to actually proceed on a national carbon tax it generate credibility to face the UN process with a real fundamental alternative to re-invent its current course from that laid at Paris in 2015 , essentially disingenuous commitments coupled with promises of foreign aid. When if not now to advance a policy instrument that could provide transparency, uniformity , gradualism and administrative efficiency? To not advocate with real terms at this time would only leave one to deduce that the hydrocarbons elites are basically disingenuous about ever dealing with the risk of climate change with tangible policy. Implicitly climate denialists?
Serious advocacy of revenue neutral carbon taxes would also materially compromise the intellectual credibility of those of on left , but especially those Democratic legislators who have long advocated for them. The Trump administration is committed to deconstructing the regulatory legacy of Obama in any case. Seizing on this opportunity to advance carbon taxes at least would fill the void with a policy instrument that has the potential of bi-partisan support. At the very least, by accepting the concept of carbon taxes, the Democrats gain some leverage to negotiate what existing regulations and tax preferences may persist. And even more importantly, to contribute to the debate on what terms the tax will change over time. Putting carbon taxes in play forces the Democrats to come terms with whether they are prepared to compromise or simply insist on endless regulated constraints on how the economy will be l allowed to use and produce energy regardless of the cost of such intervention, as most of American militants would insist on. http://www.vox.com/2016/4/22/11446232/price-on-carbon-fine One would expect those hydrocarbon elites to identify with all of that.
I believe that for the Trump administration to have the political leverage to have carbon taxes at the center of tax reform ,and its carbon policy for that matter, those hydrocarbon elites will have to come forward vigorously and publicly to support the concept, table terms they would actually support and insist on the Congress seizing this opportunity in genuine bi-partisanship. No sector has more impact than those hydrocarbon elites in creating the legitimacy of carbon taxes, and thereby blunt those elements of right wing intelligentsia and their congressional operatives that prefer outright climate denialism and no functional carbon policy.
For those elites, better to perfect the terms of revenue neutrality, stringency and pre-eminence and progress needed tax reform. Otherwise settle for ever more gridlock , growing deficits, and a void on policy that the left may eventually fill at much higher cost and economic dysfunction.