Roper: A ‘revenue neutral’ carbon tax? Not so much.

By Rob Roper

The House Energy and Technology Committee had a chance to ask the creators of a Carbon Pricing study some questions this week. One of their findings that is not particularly shocking is that if the tax is “revenue neutral” — meaning that all tax revenues raised are returned (although redistributed) to the taxpayers via alternative tax cuts or rebates — it doesn’t do a whole lot to curb behavior. If the tax costs you an extra $15 to fill up your tank, but then you get a rebate check for $15 dollars, you’re probably not going to drive any less. The report writers conceded that a revenue neutral approach would not have the kind of impact on greenhouse gas emissions supporters of the carbon tax want.

Enter Representative Michael Yantachka, D-Charlotte, who quickly floated the obvious solution: Rather than use the revenue to cut other taxes or provide rebates, gove

Rob Roper

Rob Roper is the president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

rnment should just keep the money and spend it!

Yup, that didn’t take long.

In Yanchachta’s words, “With the amount of rebate they [Vermonters] can get on their electric bill, they’re not going to be investing any of that into anything that will help them reduce their greenhouse gas emissions like weatherization or buying an electric vehicle…. If we put a 15 cent per gallon price on carbon, we can take that money and help people do good things.” Translation: You may have earned that money, but we know how to spend it better than you.

Yanchachta also implied that a 15 cent a gallon tax on gas and home heating fuel wouldn’t be a big deal, even for low income Vermonters, because these prices can and sometimes do fluctuate more than that organically. Yes, they do. And when those prices fluctuate up, it hurts. A fifty cent spike in gas prices will hurt a lot more when it’s 65 cents because of an additional 15 cent tax. Seriously, how hard is this to understand?

Nevertheless, the sentiment was echoed later in the Cedar Creek Room where a coalition of environmental activists offered up their “Climate Action Plan for 2019.” This fourteen-page pamphlet is chock full of ways to spend revenue from a new carbon tax, including a doubling of Vermont’s weatherization program, creating subsidies for buyers of electric vehicles, and further subsidizing renewable energy.

If anyone ever bought the notion that a Vermont carbon tax would be “revenue neutral,” or, if passed as such, would stay that way for very long, this week’s Statehouse activities should put that fantasy to bed for good.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR

13 thoughts on “Roper: A ‘revenue neutral’ carbon tax? Not so much.

  1. Because of ideas like these, my wife and I are planning to move to South Carolina. The abortion on demand, has also truly horrified us. It sounds like Nazi Germany.
    With such a small population and footprint, Vermont will have no affect on any “climate change”, I for one am getting sick and tired of living in a social experiment. Good luck neighbors!

  2. If you listen to Yuri Bezmanov, a former soviet KGB agent, he talks about how to subvert an entire country (state, town). Look at Venezuela, why would China and Russia be so interested? If Trump is an agent of Russia is he showing any interest in this country contrary to Putin.

    One of the clever ways to convert a country from capitalism to socialism/communism/oligarchy is to change the relationship people have with free trade. If one guy makes shoes another blankets, they are free to trade directly with each other.

    What socialism/communism/oligarchy’s trick is they are the intermediary, all goods/services/money go through them for redistribution. Now in a country that has fallen to this ideology, it’s open and unwavering.

    But the transitional step, the most clever and subtle is done through taxation. The 1st couple of iterations on the carbon tax exposed itself as nothing other than a redistribution of money, it was open and blatant about the goals.

    Oligarchs love control of everyone’s money. We are fostering this activity through crony capitalism, carbon taxation, government medical system, government school system….it’s really an oligarch’s dream, we in Vermont are the guinea pig…..we need to break out of our cage.

    • A friend put me onto this video.

      Hope you enjoy, realize this video was done 30 years ago, look at the terms, conditions and very importantly how the normal relationships between people are radicalized, fight, fight fight….how closely does this resemble what is going on today.

  3. Dear Rob,
    I’m glad I attended the Castleton GOP breakfast this morning for your presentation “Morality of free market Capitalism”, this is exactly the type of reminder all Vermonters need to hear every time an issue such as a carbon tax is considered as a solution to solve a climate crisis or to disadvantage companies and products that honestly compete in our system of free market Capitalism.

    Those who elevate such agendas for consideration by legislators should be held in contempt by the peoples court of public opinion each and every time such laws are proposed!

    It is my belief we cannot merely complain about issues and expect Vermonters to get up to speed on them enough to enlist their defeat. But pointing out the negative affect they imply for free market Capitalism is something most free minded Vermonters can and will get behind as long as they have a point of reference to understand the concept. This approach can also have the power to demonize those who would seek to diminish our system of economics once people remember what it is all about and why it is important to them.

    We cannot continue to ignore the most simple basic equations that became the success of America and expect anything other than our own decline.

    The power is with the people and it is as simple as a basic truth they understand!

  4. Who’s to say that tax won’t increase in subsequent years. Note the Energy efficiency tax never went away. In fact, it increases as they must now retract their advice on “curly bulbs” and suggest LEDs or whatever else comes down the pike.
    Keep your hands out of my pockets and let me keep my hard earned bucks.

    • John they will go up at some point. Part of the reason my family packed our bags. Every year it was always Russian roulette with the Tax man in VT. I got sick of always looking over my back wondering what new tax or fee I’m going to get handed. My property tax kept going up by hundreds every year. Next I knew I was going to get hit with a parcel tax to clean up the lake when I had nothing to do with the issue. Then it’s the ever increasing gas tax that is tied with inflation. Then it was the sugar tax that taxed my juice we had EVERY morning. Just because it was the “light” version, simply watered down. It just never stopped.

      Now the state I live in is talking about reducing income taxes, and giving back all the windfall revenue from the Federal tax reform in the form of a tax rebate this year. You would NEVER hear of such words in VT.

      Now VT wants to spend $5k to attract people to move to VT to make hotel beds. flip burgers, etc. That’s how desperate the state has become . Pathetic and sad all at once.

      • Where did you relocate to?

        Unfortunately, automation will replace more and more jobs in the very near future making entry level and many other higher paying jobs obsolete. While it is hard to set an income tax on a machine, I suppose the next logical step would be to increase the tax on the obscene profits. Eventually, I foresee a call for a minimum living supplement paid to all displaced workers.
        The time to find a wormhole is coming. My dog is waiting for me at the “Gate”. Next time I come back, the machines will run the Matrix.

        • John, I moved to the south east like most everyone else from the NE does. Manufacturing is live and well down here. Cost of living is about 30% less then VT on average. The town I live in is currently building it’s second elementary school in 15 years do to growth. Young folks are moving here in droves. There are good jobs that pay well, housing is considerably cheaper.

          I certainly don’t have a problem with taxes when they are utilized properly. I really believe my tax dollars are well utilized here, unlike VT.

          My most recent fill up at the gas station was $1.86/gal with no worried of a carbon tax ever coming from my capitol. My enhanced drivers license cost my less then $25 for 8 years. My one in VT cost me north of $50 for 4 years.

  5. Adding 15 cents to every gallon wont’ make a difference because prices fluctuate naturally?

    How can somebody so evil or so stupid; be in a position to lead our state? Seriously???? If Vermonters are falling for this we clearly need to fire every math and home economics teacher across our state because the Vermont education system has clearly failed us..

  6. Let’s play a game. If the world were going to end in 12 years how should people react? What would our government be suggesting? Wouldn’t we truly be doing and making every possible thing in our power. Wouldn’t people who truly believed this be encouraging people to make any and all necessary changes?

    Reducing the speed limit back to 55 would cut fuel consumption by an easy 5%
    We could be painting all roofs white in cities, huge gain.
    We could have mandatory car pool/hitch hike.
    We could have people share homes in heavy utility season, saving 50%!
    We could have clothes that are temperature controlled to reduce area needed to heat.
    We could have electric vehicles for $2500 that get 500mph
    We could have small gas powered cars that get 50 mpg for 6500 dollars.
    We could tighten up and finance energy efficiency in homes, paid for by fuel savings, 30% savings
    We could heat/cool homes with geo thermal

    All of these are available today. Immediately.

    So why is it that a carbon tax is the only answer? Why? What would be the motive? With so many, many obvious easy answers to reduce consumption of fuel is carbon taxing the ONLY answer to our problems?


  7. Ahhh…. yes, the old revenue neutral tag. Works all the time, except that is not what we ultimately get. Last year’s income tax bill (part of H.16) which was mostly in response to the federal changes was at first intended to be revenue neutral, but the Prems couldn’t help themselves from grabbing a little less than $2 million of the federal tax savings for themselves while at the same time transferring about $10 million in income tax from those who earn less than $100,000 to those who earn more.

    As Rep. George Till was stated by Digger back in early March, “(he)….said that while high income earners would receive less under the proposal (House Ways & Means response to Scott’s original proposal) they also benefit from more from federal tax reform”. In other words, we get to take some of your windfall.

    I would not put too much weight on Representative Yantachka’s position on any tax. While he voted for H.16, he didn’t know what was in it. Not uncommon for many legislators. Sad.

  8. I’m glad our elected (by population centers) officials are spending their time and our money addressing climate change, something that Vermonters have no measurable effect on. Thankfully these brilliant people can feel clever and morally superior, while working Vermonters further struggle.

  9. So glad I can grab a bowl of popcorn and watch this from the sidelines. As soon a Phil looses and a dem/prog is elected all bets are off.

    You better have wings on your wallets, or your wallets are going to be “Yantachka’d” right out from you.

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