Is It a Dividend? Is It a Tax? Could President Trump Care Less?

In February, I posted about the formation of the Climate Leadership Council and its push for what it calls its “Carbon Dividend” plan.  In essence, it’s a gradually increasing carbon tax.  The plan would be revenue neutral, with the proceeds being returned to taxpayers.  Thus, the name.  I loved the idea and I still love it.  I particularly love that the tax starts at $40/ton – that’s a serious number.

However, as I noted in February, the founders of the CLC are a who’s who of the old-line GOP establishment – precisely those whom President Trump would generally refer to as “losers”, unless he could spare the time to come up with something more derogatory.

The CLC has now brought on a number of corporate heavyweights, including GM and four of the world’s largest oil and gas companies (BP, ExxonMobil, Shell, and Total), among others.  They published their support in a Wall Street Journal ad.  In a cheerful bit of optimism, the program is now called “The Consensus Climate Solution.”  The ad describes the plan as “Pro-Environment, Pro-Growth, Pro-Jobs, Pro-Competitiveness, Pro-Business and Pro-National Security.”  Who could be against it?  Here’s a hint.  I think that the tag line would work better if phrased as follows:

Pro-Environment, Pro-Trump, Pro-Growth, Pro-Trump, Pro-Jobs, Pro-Trump, Pro-Competitiveness, Pro-Trump, Pro-Business, Pro-Trump, and Pro-National Security (and Pro-Trump)

Seriously, this is no time for cynicism.  This is a great plan.  A tax starting at $40/ton would have real impact.  (The most recent RGGI auction price?  $2.53/ton.)  As I noted earlier this week, we need smart people of good will and of all political stripes advocating solutions if we’re going to get anywhere.

Trump may call you losers, but, men and woman of the CLC, I salute you!

6 thoughts on “Is It a Dividend? Is It a Tax? Could President Trump Care Less?

  1. Pingback: Is It a Dividend? Is It a Tax? Could President Trump Care Less? | Corporate Social Responsibility and the Law

  2. A good plan indeed. So, here are my questions:
    Who are the champions at the White House ? Ivanka? Tillerson? How do they overcome Pruitt et al? What gets Paul Ryan on board? Not to be cynical- just practical…

    • I have no answers to any of these questions. However, while I’m skeptical about how much the White House or Congress is paying attention to the CLC, they are extremely experienced people and I’m sure that they are thinking about the answers to these questions.

  3. Trump will not pursue this plan, even if he buys into the concept. He can’t sell it to his base, which is overwhelmingly more important to him than any established GOP faction.He can’t get a 2nd term or achieve fake facts immortality without them.

    It’s an intriguing concept that needs to be flushed out more. I am particularly concerned about codification, implementation and real time execution. Can the existing bureaucracy handle this or do we need a new federal agency.

  4. I am wondering, will the carbon tax result in higher prices to consumers? If the money is in fact returned, isn’t that an interest free loan from the taxpayers to the tax collectors?

    • I have not seen estimates as to the extent of price increases to consumers. Prices would certainly be expected to increase, but not by the full amount of the tax, because carbon prices would be constrained to the extent that the carbon fuel compete with zero carbon fuels.

      I don’t believe it is appropriate to view a carbon tax and dividend plan as a loan as you describe.

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