Don't even think about supporting a carbon tax, Americans for Tax Reform
President Grover Norquist told congressional Republicans on Tuesday.
Norquist blasted out a statement saying a carbon tax would almost certainly
violate the pledge many Republicans took at his group's behest not to raise
He was walking back comments he had made Monday to National Journal, in which
the publication quoted him as saying that if a carbon tax were paired with an
income tax cut, "it's possible you could structure something that wasn't
an increase and didn't violate the pledge."
In his Tuesday statement, Norquist said: "There is no conceivable way
to add an energy or [value-added] tax to the burdens American taxpayers face
that would not violate the pledge over time."
He said it would take a constitutional amendment eliminating the income tax
- which would need to clear a massive hurdle in Congress - for him to warm up
to a carbon tax.
"If someone first passed and implemented a constitutional amendment
with two-thirds of the House and Senate and three-fourths of the
states concurring to forbid the restoration of the income tax, we might more
safely consider passing a VAT or energy VAT. And then it would be foolish and
economically destructive thing to do," he said.
Also part of Tuesday's statement: "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. Two smaller tapeworms are not an
improvement over one big tapeworm. Tapeworms and taxes grow."
Norquist's comments are the latest signal that a carbon tax faces long odds
to passage, even amid growing support for the proposal among economists, some
conservatives and environmental groups. Proponents have called for a "tax swap"
in which revenues from a carbon tax are used to offset cuts on other taxes as
part of deal to address the looming fiscal cliff.
POLITICO reported Friday that the issue has so far gained little
traction on Capitol Hill, despite a strong push by outside groups.
Initial reports about Norquist's Monday statement stirred excitement among
some environmentalists. The liberal website ThinkProgress had described his remarks as a "bombshell" that could remove the
"biggest obstacle" to getting a carbon tax enacted.
But the comments also prompted the American Energy Alliance - a group backed
by the Koch brothers - to give Norquist its "dim bulb award" in its
daily newsletter Tuesday.
"Grover, just butch it up and oppose this lousy idea directly,"
the group wrote. "This word-smithing is giving us all headaches."