As the Republican-led Congress moves closer to revamping the U.S. tax code, it has sought sources of revenue to pay for proposed cuts. In mid-November, a group of business, philanthropic and environmental leaders met at a lunch in Manhattan convened by a former Goldman Sachs partner to discuss the possibility of making a carbon tax a reality.
A tax on carbon emissions, also known as carbon pricing, has long been thought to be an extremely hard sell, especially in the business community and among most Republican politicians. But the need to find revenue sources to offset proposed tax cuts has created an possible opening that leaders concerned about climate change are eager to exploit.
George T. Frampton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality under President Clinton and co-founder of the Partnership for Responsible Growth, which advocates for the use of a carbon tax to address climate, says the only way a carbon tax has a realistic chance of success is if the current tax proposal fails. Frampton, who has met with GOP senators to push for a carbon tax, notes that the funds provided by such a tax could be compelling to Republicans eager for a legislative win. “There’s a tremendous self-generated pressure here by Republican congressmen and senators who are saying publicly and privately, ‘If we can’t do this, our donors will tell us not to call again’ or ‘If we can’t do this, we can’t get elected dog catcher,’” says Frampton of the Congressional effort to pass a tax bill.