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home : opinion : opinion July 24, 2014

6/5/2014 3:48:00 PM
Read my lips - no new taxes!
Bill Forhan

Governor Inslee and President Obama are in lockstep. They say our planet is in danger because of greenhouse gasses so we must institute a new program to address the issue. Their program is built around new taxes called a "carbon tax" or "cap and trade tax."
Over the weekend the Freedom Foundation published a video of a debate they held in Bellingham on the issue. The debate panel included four individuals from government, energy and education who expressed their views over two hours. The participants included Senator Doug Erickson a Republican from the 42nd District and Chair of the Senate Energy Environment and Telecommunications Committee, Daniel Simmons from the Institute for Energy Research, Dr. Yoram Bauman Environmental Economist and Representative Joe Fitzgibbon a Democrat from the 34th District and Chair of the House Environment Committee.
Essentially a carbon tax and a cap and trade tax are intended to create incentives for individuals and corporations to use less carbon based fuels like gasoline and coal. The argument is that by making traditional energy resources more expensive we will find more environmentally friendly and less expensive alternatives. It is not a new idea. It has been tried in many places including Spain, most of Western Europe, California and British Columbia.
The panel agreed that Gov. Inslee has not actually submitted a plan so it is difficult to debate the issues of that plan, but they all agreed that a carbon tax would by definition increase the cost of gasoline by at least 25 cents per gallon. They also agreed that such a tax would fall heaviest on those least able to pay it. Gasoline, like food, is an essential element of daily life. A 25 cent increase in the cost of a gallon of gas will take a bigger bite out of the household income of those making less than $20,000 per year than it will from those making $50,000. In other words, it is a regressive tax.
The pro-tax members of the debate made the argument that while the tax is regressive it will ultimately lower the state sales tax by 1 percent and eliminate the Business and Operations (B&O) tax on corporations. As a result, it will ultimately make the state more favorable for manufacturing jobs. And the lower sales tax, another regressive form of taxation, will ultimately help those with lower incomes.
The panel did not debate the issue of the science. That's unfortunate since we continue to debate the issue of global warming/climate change as though it is settled science. It is not. In fact, a growing number of scientists are beginning to admit that computer models predicting doom for mankind are less and less reliable. But politicians are always on the hunt for a crisis they can use to seize more power and influence.
Energy is the lifeblood of our economy. It's always been so. Cheap, abundant energy has fueled our factories and our farms creating the wealthiest society on the face of the earth. Many liberals argue that our wealth came from stealing the precious resources of our neighbors around the world. But that is a distortion spread by foreign dictators who need to paint America as an enemy in order to keep their subjects dependent.
Daniel Simmons said, "The richer we are the cleaner we are." In other words, when it comes to pollution no country has done more to reduce their carbon footprint. What we need to do is get the rest of the world to reduce their pollution and we will have a far bigger impact on the problem. Simmons made the point that if we could eliminate all of our annual greenhouse gas emissions China would replace that loss in just one month.
In summary, both sides of the debate agree that these taxes will increase the cost of doing business making American producers less competitive in the global economy and they will hit the poor the hardest. The natural result is more American jobs will migrate overseas where the cost of production is lower and environmental concerns are secondary to putting people to work. They will also decrease the standard of living here at home increasing demand for expanding welfare programs for the growing number of poor. All taxes will continue to grow and the promise of eliminating or lowering other taxes in exchange for this new more enlightened approach will become just more confetti on the floor with the pink slips.

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