Tuesday, October 19, 2021

On Carbon AND On Taxes, Biden Shows His Hypocrisy

As if middle-class Americans didn’t have enough inflation to cope with, Democrats want to squeeze struggling families even more. The New York Times reported over the weekend that the opposition of Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., a key element of President Biden’s agenda has some Democrats considering adding a carbon tax in their $3.5 trillion spending extravaganza.

Imposing a carbon tax would represent but the latest instance of Democrats violating President Biden’s pledge not to raise taxes on the middle class:

Claims in tweets aside, Biden’s record shows he does not practice what he preaches—not on rich people “paying their fair share,” and certainly not on taking action against global warming. Instead, Biden’s carbon tax would raise prices on struggling families to offset the massive carbon emissions of he and his wealthy friends.

Wyden Carbon Tax Proposal

The Times reported that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Oregon:

Is considering a domestic carbon tax that could start at $15 to $18 per ton, and that would increase over time … The tax would be applied directly to coal mining companies, large natural gas processing plans, and oil refiners, based on the emissions associated with their products, with one exception: Oil refiners would likely be charged for producing diesel fuel and petrochemicals, but not gasoline—a way to shield most American drivers at the pump.

Wyden claims he would use the revenue to fund rebates for working-class Americans, to mitigate the effects of the tax increases.

How would all this work? For starters, a carbon tax would raise a lot of revenue. Prior estimates suggest a tax on the order of the Wyden proposal would generate roughly $700 billion or so over for the federal government a decade.

Consumers would pay part of these carbon taxes directly, through higher heating and electricity bills. If applied to gasoline, a carbon tax could raise its price by roughly 15 cents per gallon. (The Times indicated Wyden’s current proposal would exempt gasoline from the carbon tax, but this estimate gives readers a sense of how much a carbon tax would raise energy prices, using a “real world” example many can relate to.)

A 2017 Treasury report also suggests that, if applied at the level envisioned by the Wyden proposal, a carbon tax would raise prices for natural gas by nearly double digits. As it is, the Energy Department estimated last week that the average home using natural gas will require $746 to heat this winter—up more than 30 percent from last year’s $573. Prices for home heating oil, electricity, and gasoline would all rise by at least several percentage points under a carbon tax.

A carbon tax would also indirectly raise the price of food, clothing, and other goods that comprise a disproportionate share of working-class Americans’ incomes, as producers raise prices to offset fuel and utility price hikes. As the Times noted, “industries could pass along their higher costs, leaving Democrats vulnerable to claims that they are raising taxes on the middle class, at a moment when inflation and energy prices are [already] rising.”

Even if implemented in a revenue-neutral way, in which the new revenue from the carbon tax gets paid back out in rebates to middle-class Americans, all this redistribution would create government-chosen winners and losers. For instance, while the Times suggests that most individuals with gas-powered cars wouldn’t face a carbon tax on their fuel, Americans with diesel-powered vehicles would—meaning that people who selected “clean” diesel cars a few years ago could end up paying a lot more to fuel their cars. These types of inequities would occur throughout the economy, and could hit many working families hard.

Joe Biden’s Carbon Emissions Are Bigger Than Yours

Given Democrats’ new willingness to raise taxes on middle-class Americans, both directly and indirectly, in the name of addressing the “climate crisis,” it’s worth examining how Joe Biden has addressed that “crisis” himself. Of course, no one expects the president of the United States to fly commercial, but consider just some of the ways Biden behaved when he became a private citizen in 2017:

As Biden traveled the country before announcing his presidential campaign this spring [of 2019], his sponsors provided hotel suites, town cars, and professional drivers, chartered flights and travel expense reimbursement that for some of his appearances reached at least $10,000 per event….

Some contracts [for personal appearances] included at least $10,000 for travel—which was the agreement with the University of Utah—and organizers were told it was standard practice for Biden and his aides to fly privately. Other contracts, like one with the University of Buffalo, included a stipulation for ‘a town car and professional driver’ for Biden and each of his companions.

The same article outlining his luxury—and carbon-intensive—travel habits also noted that Biden also grew his real estate holdings after serving as vice president. In 2017, he and his wife Jill spent $2.7 million buying a 4,800-square-foot “beach house” at the same time they were renting a 12,000-square-foot mansion outside Washington. Because they no longer live at, and never owned, the Washington-area mansion, we can examine the property’s many carbon-intensive features in detail—including five bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, marble fireplaces, a gym, a sauna, and parking for 20-plus cars:

Biden Didn’t ‘Pay His Fair Share,’ Either

That gets into the question of “fairness,” and “paying your fair share.” His own claims to the contrary, Biden doesn’t know a thing about paying his fair share. As I have previously documented, Biden and his wife Jill created two S-corporations, funneling more than $13.6 million in book and speech earnings through the two corporations to avoid paying nearly $517,000 in Obamacare and Medicare taxes.

At the same time the Bidens were dodging these taxes—for programs Joe Biden claims he supports—they were building up both their carbon footprint and their real estate portfolio, buying the “beach house” and renting the luxury mansion outside Washington.

It’s further evidence that the left views themselves as above reproach and above the law: Charging you higher prices, in the form of new energy taxes, to help clean up their luxurious lifestyles. That’s the real “fairness” agenda within the Biden Administration.

This post was originally published at The Federalist.