Grover Norquist says a carbon tax would violate tax pledge

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Michael Bastasch Contributor
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The conservative group Americans for Tax Reform issued a statement on Tuesday saying they opposed a carbon tax and that they “will work tirelessly to ensure one does not become law.”

“The creation of any new tax such as a VAT or energy tax — even if originally passed with offsetting tax reductions elsewhere — would inevitably lead to higher taxes as two taxes would be at the disposal of politicians to increase taxes,” said ATR President Grover Norquist in the statement.

“There is no conceivable way to add an energy or VAT tax to the burdens American taxpayers face that would not violate the pledge over time,” Norquist said.

This statement comes the day after the National Journal reported that Norquist said that a proposed “carbon tax swap,” which would tax carbon emissions while cutting income taxes, would not violate his pledge for lawmakers not to raise taxes.

The ATR Taxpayer Protection Pledge binds elected officials to oppose all tax increases, and is offered to all state and federal candidates and incumbents.

“It’s possible you could structure something that wasn’t an increase and didn’t violate the pledge,” Norquist told the Journal, adding that he himself was not in favor of the policy and that such a policy would “infuriate” taxpayers.

“If the Democrats thought it was a good idea and the country wouldn’t hate them for it they would have done it in 2009,” Norquist added, also saying enacting such a policy was a longshot. “It’s a conversation about what color unicorn you’d like.”

“If someone first passed and implemented a constitutional amendment with 2/3 of the House and Senate and 3/4 of the states concurring to forbid the restoration of the income tax, we might more safely consider passing a VAT or energy VAT,” Norquist said in his statement.

“And then it would be foolish and economically destructive thing to do,” Norquist added.

In August, Washington Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott introduced a carbon tax bill in the House that placed an initial maximum carbon permit price at $18.75 per ton of carbon which would then steeply rise to $131.25 per ton of carbon over a decade.

It is unlikely that the bill will pass the Republican controlled House, but some say that Republicans could possibly be convinced to go along with a tax if lower corporate taxes and personal income taxes.

“[T]he idea of a carbon tax to raise revenue is gaining luster in Washington from both Republicans and Democrats,” Marc Morano, publisher of Climate Depot and former staffer on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, previously told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an email.

“Many of Romney’s advisors supported carbon tax and it is just possible that GOP leadership may consider under a tax ‘reform’ revenue enhancement,” he added.

There has also been much activity surrounding the carbon tax this week as the American Enterprise Institute hosted an event on Tuesday about the economics of carbon taxes that included a keynote speaker from the Treasury Department.

The event was cosponsored by the Brookings Institution, the International Monetary Fund, and the environmental group Resources for the Future.

The Washington Examiner reports that the non-profit conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute is suing the Treasury Department to force them to release more than 7,300 internal emails circulated among senior executives about a carbon tax proposal.

Treasury reportedly told CEI that “the cost of photocopying the emails in order to make them public would not be worth the cost because doing so ‘would not significantly inform the public about the operations or activities of government,'” reports the Examiner.

On Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office also released a working paper on reducing the regressive effects that a carbon tax would have on low-income households. The National Journal reports that the CBO previously released a report saying that a carbon tax could reduce the federal deficit by 10 percent to 50 percent.

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