Grover Norquist – Climate Warrior
November 13, 2012
Well not quite. Baby steps.
James Carville noted on Bill Maher last week, there’s nothing that clarifies the mind quite as well as a two by four upside the head. “..And”, he added, “..that sound you hear’d on tuesday night? That was the sound of pine on skull..”
Are we seeing a crack in the door?
In a step that may help crack open the partisan impasse on climate change, Grover Norquist, the influential lobbyist who has bound hundreds of Republicans to a pledge never to raise taxes, told National Journal that a proposed “carbon tax swap”—taxing carbon pollution in exchange for cutting the income tax—would not violate his pledge.
Norquist’s assessment matters a lot, and could help pave the way for at least a handful of Republicans to support the policy. Over the past six months, a growing number of conservative voices, including former Republican officials and renowned economists, have amped up pressure on their party to finally address climate change.
One group, the Energy and Enterprise Initiative headed by former Rep. Bob Inglis, R-S.C., has been working for months to persuade the GOP to take up a carbon-tax swap as part of a broad tax-reform package next year. The idea is to create a market signal to drive consumers away from fossil fuels by taxing the carbon pollution caused by burning coal, oil, and natural gas.
The problem is that creating a new “energy tax” would be viewed by some as political suicide. And Republicans who have signed Norquist’s pledge would be barred from supporting it.
That’s where the “swap” side of the policy comes in: The new carbon tax would be paired with a cut in the income tax—something Republicans have long sought. The idea essentially would be to cut the tax on income and move it over to carbon pollution—keeping the proposal revenue-neutral.
“It’s possible you could structure something that wasn’t an increase and didn’t violate the pledge,” Norquist told National Journal.
See my interview with Rep. Inglis below: