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White House Disavows Two Controversial Tax Ideas Hours after Officials Say They’re under Consideration

Submitted by on April 4, 2017 – 6:07 pmNo Comment

by Damian Paletta and Max Ehrenfreund (Washington Post)  The White House on Tuesday disavowed two controversial options for their planned overhaul of the tax code, after two Trump administration officials earlier in the day said the president’s team was exploring a value-added tax to raise government revenue.

One of those administration officials also earlier Tuesday said the White House was considering the creation of a carbon tax, but a Trump administration spokesperson later said that idea was also  no longer under consideration.

“As we have said many times, the President’s team is hearing input from experts on all sides of the tax reform debate as we formulate what will ultimately be the President’s plan to enact the first significant tax reform since 1986. As of now, neither a carbon tax nor a VAT are under consideration,” deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said in a statement.

The rapid reversal illustrates a Trump administration still in the initial stages of a plan to rework the tax code, particularly as it looks to build support while also sticking close to conservative ideas. Administration officials have long been aware of how politically divisive these ideas are, but they had searched for ways find new revenue sources to offset the steep cuts in individual and corporate tax rates that President Trump promised during last year’s campaign.

A carbon tax would target the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouses gases in the burning of gasoline, coal and other fossil fuels.

“The talk right now about a value added tax or a carbon tax would blow up the whole movement,” said Stephen Moore, who was a top economic adviser to Trump during the 2016 campaign. “It would bring it to a screeching halt.”

Many Republicans oppose the creation of a carbon tax, but several major oil companies have backed the idea. And there is other pockets of support from prominent Republicans. Former Secretary of State James Baker, former Secretary of State George Shultz, and former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson recently met with White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn to push the idea of a carbon tax.
A key part of the plan proposed by Baker and his colleagues was to refund the revenues raised by a carbon tax by issuing dividend checks to American households.

In 2013, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected that a modest tax of $20 per ton of carbon dioxide emissions would raise roughly $1.2 trillion over a decade — roughly the same amount that would be raised by the border adjustment.   READ MORE and MORE (Axios) and MORE  / MORE (Politico’s Morning Energy) and MORE (Alliance for Market Solutions)

 

Excerpt from Politico’s Morning Energy:  With three vacancies on the five-member commission curtailing most of its policy work, FERC may be unable to act before states push new policies that markets have to work around. Acting FERC Chairman Cheryl LaFleur and Commissioner Colette Honorable each said that one obvious solution to easing the state and federal jurisdictional tension would be by putting a price on carbon in the markets, but they both acknowledged some states would not be keen on that idea. Overall, however, LaFleur acknowledged in an interview Tuesday that “there seems to be a clear urgency to take action on this issue of state policies in the market.” But, said, “without a quorum, we’re limited to soft power like having tech conferences and making statements.”  READ MORE

 

Excerpt from Politico’s Morning Energy: A former member of Trump’s transition team is pushing a carbon tax as a conservative solution to climate change. The Alliance for Market Solutions launched today with the goal of reshaping how Republicans approach the issue, says Alex Flint, the group’s new executive director. Flint previously served as a “Sherpa ” to help smooth the confirmation of Trump’s Interior Department nominee, and before that he was senior vice president of governmental affairs at Nuclear Energy Institute. The mission of the Alliance for Market Solutions is “to see carbon regulations repealed, a carbon tax implemented that offsets other taxes … and policies that appeal to the next generation of Republican voters – that’s our goal,” he told ME. The new alliance – armed with an Ernst & Young study written by Robert J. Carroll and his associates – says a revenue-neutral carbon tax would boost the economy. The E&Y study finds the tax – when using its revenues to finance a reduction in the corporate income tax rate – could increase GDP in the long-run by as much as 2.1 percent. The group also released a policy anthology.

The players: The board of directors includes Chairman Jeffrey Williams, former investment banker at Morgan Stanley. And advisers include former FERC Commissioner Vicky Bailey, Former Florida Sen. Mel Martinez and John Rowe, chairman emeritus of Exelon.  READ MORE

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