My Turn: Carbon Tax is No Bargain At All

Jeff Smith

By Jeff Smith

On these very Opinion pages of the Arizona Republic last Saturday there appeared a bizarre and somewhat tortured defense of H.R. 2380, the Raise Wages, Cut Carbon Act of 2009 that was sponsored in the House of Representatives last year by Rep. Jeff Flake. This defense came from, of all people, Mr. Tom Jenney of Americans for Prosperity.

The piece appeared to concede as given that carbon reduction legislation is in the offing for this country. It therefore suggested that Mr. Flake’s carbon tax proposal should be adopted as the lesser of two evils between it and full-blown Cap and Trade – a “grand bargain.” I respectfully disagree with Mr. Jenney, as I do with Mr. Flake for having introduced such a dangerous piece of legislation in the first place. As the so-called “scientific” case for global warming crumbles like a house of cards, and as Americans show themselves to be less-concerned and less-convinced of global warming every day, the idea that we must accept any kind of carbon reduction legislation is anything but a given as far as I’m concerned.

To begin with, as best I can tell, perhaps the most redeeming virtue of this legislation Mr. Jenney could find is that it is “honest,” in that “it calls a tax a tax.” Apparently standards for good legislation have dropped even further than I had feared if this is the best we can say about this otherwise deeply-flawed proposal.

Mr. Jenney writes, “The Flake-Lipinski bill recognizes the damage caused by new taxes, and seeks to limit that damage.” If we acknowledge that new taxes will be damaging, I suggest we prevent their introduction in the first place, rather than seek to mitigate the damage through an unrelated offsetting tax reduction that may or may not persist (but probably won’t) for the duration of the carbon tax.

Mr. Jenney goes on to suggest improvements to the bill, recommending a cut in “key taxes, such as corporate income, personal income, capital gains, dividend, and estate taxes” instead of the payroll-tax reductions offered in the bill as it currently stands. However, this merely puts “lipstick on a pig,” and still ignores the true danger of this bill, which is that it gives credibility to the idea that carbon dioxide (CO2) is a pollutant that must be reduced, regulated, and taxed. Giving credence to this idea, from an alleged conservative, no less, opens the door wide open for Big Brother to start dictating to us in every aspect of our lives that involves energy consumption or carbon emission. How many things do you do in a day that involve energy consumption or carbon emission (don’t forget breathing!)? How long will it be before the federal government starts dictating, for example, how long we can keep our lights on, how long we can use our air conditioners or how cool we can keep our homes and offices in the summer, how and when we may drive our cars, what kind of light bulbs we can and can’t use (wait, they’ve already done that)? And the list goes on and on.

Sound far-fetched? Be reminded our President is on record as saying the following as a candidate only two years ago: “If somebody wants to build a coal power plant they can, it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”

If our President is so cavalier in his willingness to let the entire coal-fired utility industry go under, and allow electricity rates for American families to necessarily skyrocket, what reason do we have to believe our federal government wouldn’t take similarly draconian steps to tax and limit CO2, especially once the idea that CO2 is a pollutant has been “ratified” by this bill?

Many of us saw the Audi “Green Police” ad that aired during the Super Bowl. It depicted an army of power-crazed environmental do-gooders arresting people for a host of alleged environmental infractions. While it was intended to be humorous, the ad backfired as horrified Americans witnessed a chilling scene that could be all too real if Cap and Trade or the Carbon Tax bill were to pass.

Our federal government has shown a continuous propensity to insert itself into virtually every aspect of the everyday lives of Americans, usually in the name of a cause so grandiose and compelling that many well-meaning people willingly comply (Save the Planet!) Do we really need to encourage them by conceding – erroneously – that the most basic and fundamental activities of our everyday lifestyle must be regulated and taxed? Do we really need to surrender our civilization – our very way of life – precisely as it is becoming clear to the world that there is anything but a scientific consensus concerning global warming, and that the panels and committees that have foisted this falsehood upon us are really agenda-driven political bodies, with no real concern for scientific integrity or, for that matter, the actual health of the planet? Of course not!

Jeff Flake’s Carbon Tax bill is no bargain at all for America.

Jeff Smith is a candidate for the United States House of Representatives in Arizona’s 6th Congressional District, running against Jeff Flake. For more information, go to


  1. I read Tom Jenney’s piece. It was saying that an overall reduction of taxes was a good thing and that if the President or the state legislature were serious about cutting emissions then they would be willing to negotiate a compromise to make sure some taxes were also cut. But…they aren’t serious about it at all. It is just a power and revenue grab.

    If you actually read Jenney’s piece it had little to do with Rep. Flake’s bill. It also didn’t say it supported global warming science.

    Glad Jeff Smith could find a forum to post on to misrepresent Jeff Flake though. Nice start to your campaign Jeff!

    The Presiden’t comments have nothing to do with Jenney’s piece. He was arguing against the Presidents approach. Of course, if you had been around politics for more than the past two weeks, you might know that Tom Jenney is actually on our side on this issue and others.

  2. Mr. Smith,

    Why is it that conservatives like Tom Jenney, Jeff Flake, Art Laffer (, and Charles Krauthammer ( support the revenue-nuetral carbon/gas taxes, but Congressional Democrats, thus far, have not? Is it because Congressional Democrats like taxing income and labor and a revenue-neutral carbon tax would require them to stop?

    I’m with Flake on this one, other things being equal, I would rather be taxed on my fuel consumption/carbon emissions than on my income or labor. Apparently, you prefer labor and income taxes.

    You express concern that a Carbon-Tax bill would “ratify” CO2 as a pollutant. Let me ask: is income a pollutant? I agree with you that CO2 is not a pollutant (unfortunately, the US Supreme Court has wrongfully held otherwise under the Clean Air Act) but neither is income or labor. Why is it more offensive to you to tax CO2 emissions than it is to tax income? Flake’s bill doesn’t ratify CO2 as a pollutant any more than you are advocating that income is a pollutant.

    I believe Flake sponsored his Carbon Tax bill as an alternative to the Cap-and-Trade bill that passed the House last year. I understood his point to be: if you’re trying to raise the price on carbon emissions (which is the purpose of cap-and-trade), we might as well use that money to fund government and reduce other tax burdens at the same time.

    Seems pretty reasonable to me.

  3. Stephen Kohut says

    “Global warming” is the latest unsustainable pseudoscience. Anyone with an education in geology or any number of related earth science fields knows that the earth is a glacial planet whose normal state is with sea level down by 600 from today, ice caps over most of northern Europe, and North America (Canada & Rocky Moutnains), etc. These periods last several hundred thousand years. We have periodic warm interglacial periods that last about 10 thousand years. All of modern human civiliation has occurred in the current interglacial. The swings from normal glacial to abnormal interglacial are relatively predictable with natural but unconfirmed causes. This has been the earths cycles for many millions of years. The swings we see now are also normal and natural. During the warm period of 1000-1300 they grew grapes in England, the Vikings colonized Greenland and named it that for a very specific reason. I doubt the burning of peat and dung had much to do with the warm period.

    So, they can stuff any and all taxes, regulations and pseudoscience on global warming and climate change. I’ll take none of it and well as none of Jeff Flake.

  4. Stephen,

    Actually, “Greenland” was named that way by Erik the Red during his exile from Iceland. It was, in essence, a scam to fool idiots into believing that the frozen tundra that is the island was a lush paradise.

    It appears that people still fall for Erik’s scam.

    Learn your history.

  5. Stephen Kohut says

    There were long establish and viable settlements in Greenland during the warm period or do you choose to forget that? Read and become educated as your knowledge seems to be lacking in this area.

    Here is a short bit from the article.

    Under the leadership of the red-faced, red-bearded Erik (who had given the island its attractive name, the better to lure settlers there), the colonists developed a little Europe of their own just a few hundred miles from North America, a full 500 years before Columbus set foot on the continent. They established dairy and sheep farms throughout the unglaciated areas of the south and built churches, a monastery, a nunnery, and a cathedral boasting an imported bronze bell and greenish tinted glass windows.

    The Greenlanders prospered. From the number of farms in both colonies, whose 400 or so stone ruins still dot the landscape, archaeologists guess that the population may have risen to a peak of about 5,000.

  6. Culled from a few sources.

    “The real story behind the name is given in Erik the Red’s Saga, based on oral tradition and written down in the early thirteenth century in Iceland. After the Icelandic landnám was over, Erik the Red and his father Thorvald were forced to leave Norway because one or both of them was involved in killings (details are not given). After Thorvald died, Erik was involved in yet more killings, for which his punishment was three years’ vacation–er, I mean banishment from Iceland.

    He used the time to explore the rumored lands to the west. When his term of banishment expired, he returned to Icleand to invite his neighbors and friends to settle the new country with him. He purposely chose the pleasant name Grænland (“green land”) to attract settlers, but the choice wasn’t exactly misleading.”

    For much of the time that the Norse survived in Greenland, they had a very tough life that demanded finding a balance between maintaining population-levels and finding enough food and supplies to survive. Most of the time they had just enough supplies to continue their societies. Despite the Norse settlers’ constant struggle, at Norse Greenland’s peak at c. 1126 the inhabitants numbered between 2000 and 4000. Despite enjoying what some might consider a reasonable amount of time on Greenland in conjunction with varying times of successes and failures, the Norse settlement in Greenland did not last more than 500 years. Jared Diamond gives a rationale for this, as have others. He presents a five-step process that explains the collapse of civilizations and offers Greenland as an example of this process.

    The Norse failed to adapt fully to their surroundings. They clung too much to familiar ways of living that proved ultimately unsuitable in Greenland.

  7. Stephen Kohut says


    So much for Norse history. No matter who you spin Eric’s tale it was still warmer then than now. We are seeing normal variation driven by volcanic and sun activity in the current interglacial and my comments on the earth’s natural glacial/interglacial cycle stand.

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