At the Associated Press, George P. Shultz, James A. Baker III and six other formerly despised Republicans and business leaders have suddenly become "GOP senior statesman."
What accounts for this instant transformation? The group is pushing what it calls a "Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends.” In a Tuesday evening Wall Street Journal op-ed, Shultz and Baker advocated "a gradually increasing carbon tax" accompanied by massive redistributions of income. The AP's headline writers and reporters Catherine Lucey and Julie Pace could barely conceal their glee. In the process, they massively misrepresented the results of the Obama administration's efforts to build up "renewable energy from sources like solar."
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Besides Shultz and Baker, the cadre of carbon-taxing/income-redistributing "statesmen" includes several others who held cabinet or senior adviser positions during the Nixon, Reagan, Bush 41 and Bush 43 administrations (Hank Paulson, Greg Mankiw and Martin Feldstein), two big business leaders (former Walmart chairman Rob Walton and venture capitalist Thomas Stephenson), and a policy wonk/think tank veteran whose whose group, the Climate Leadership Council, has published the policy paper (Ted Halstead).
As if advocating a massive tax-and-redistribute scheme isn't bad enough, the group is against rolling back regulations on business and the energy industry until "such a (carbon-taxing/income-redistributing) system is in place." In other words, "Yeah, we'll get around to that." Uh-huh.
Here is why Shultz and Baker believe their suggestions need to be implemented (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Thirty years ago, as the atmosphere’s protective ozone layer was dwindling at alarming rates, we were serving proudly under President Ronald Reagan. We remember his leading role in negotiating the Montreal Protocol, which continues to protect and restore the delicate ozone layer. Today the world faces a similar challenge: the threat of climate change.
Just as in the 1980s, there is mounting evidence of problems with the atmosphere that are growing too compelling to ignore. And, once again, there is uncertainty about what lies ahead. The extent to which climate change is due to man-made causes can be questioned. But the risks associated with future warming are so severe that they should be hedged.
The responsible and conservative response should be to take out an insurance policy.
Unfortunately for the authors, claims that the Montreal Protocol accomplished anything meaningful are bogus. Given that reality, the Heritage Foundation's observation ten years ago on the ozone and global warming parallels is striking: "In both cases, virtually everything the public has been told that sounds terrifying isn't true -- and what is true isn't particularly terrifying."
But Shulz, Baker et al are terrified, and they've bought the inane argument that on the (completely undemonstrated) off-chance the globaloney peddlers are right, we must "hedge" against it with an "insurance policy" involving what would ultimately be a massive reordering of the worldwide economic order.
Here is the core of their proposal:
We suggest a solution that rests on four pillars. First, creating a gradually increasing carbon tax. Second, returning the tax proceeds to the American people in the form of dividends. Third, establishing border carbon adjustments that protect American competitiveness and encourage other countries to follow suit. And fourth, rolling back government regulations once such a system is in place.
The related working paper supporting the Climate Leadership Council's document shows how inconsequential to the average American family — rich or poor — the overall results of a carbon tax would be. But the regulatory apparatus needed to administer such a program would be necessarily massive — and in Washington, that's considered a good thing.
Now let's look at how thrilled the AP and reporters Lucey and Pace were — so thrilled that, as will be shown shortly, they perpetrated a complete fiction about the energy-related accomplishments of the Obama administration:
GOP senior statesmen making push for a carbon tax
A group of Republican senior statesmen are pushing for a carbon tax to combat the effects of climate change, and hoping to sell their plan to the White House.
... According to an outline of the plan, the group will call for a gradually increasing carbon tax that "might begin at $40 a ton and increase steadily over time." It would raise $200 billion to $300 billion annually. They would then redistribute tax proceeds back to consumers on a quarterly basis in what they call "carbon dividends" that could be approximately $2,000 annually for a family of four.
... The vast majority of peer-reviewed studies and climate scientists agree the planet is warming, mostly due to man-made sources. Under (Barack) Obama, the U.S. has dramatically ramped up production of renewable energy from sources like solar, in part through Energy Department grants.
Note that Lucey and Pace gladly told readers about their potential "dividend," but didn't mention the collectively matching increases consumers, businesses, and other users would see in their energy bills.
The AP pair's claim about how the U.S. under Obama "dramatically ramped up production of renewable energy" is nonsense, as seen in the following two tables.
The first table shows that fossil-fuel production as a percentage of all energy production actually increased during the first seven years of the Obama administration, while the percentage of production from renewable sources barely grew:
The second table makes a mockery of the AP's citation of solar as a meaningful contributor to the renewable energy production mix:
Solar is still only 4.5 percent of all renewable energy production, and a pathetic 0.5 percent of all energy production.
The results seen in these two tables occurred despite the Obama administration's horribly expensive efforts to juice renewables, particularly solar, and its aggressive attempts to obstruct fossil-fuel production.
It is to the convenient advantage of the global-warming crowd that the AP reporters vastly misrepresented the results of the Obama administration's renewable energy efforts. That's because it gives readers the false impression that renewables have a realistic chance of dominating energy production in the reasonably near future.
No, they don't — and the proposal from the newly anointed "GOP senior statesmen" won't materially change that.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.