It’s easy to see how “principled” some members of the Republican Party are, as they suck away our tax cash for their growing salaries and work with Dems to feed their debt-drenched, Constitution-insulting federal leviathan. But sometimes one gets stark reminders of how vile and underhanded these characters are.
Case in point, the Foreign Pollution Fee Act of 2023, from Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), which combines a lot of poisonous and fallacious ideas in order to extort via federal tariff foreign manufacturers and innocent domestic consumers – even as Cassidy claims it’s a way to stop the Biden Administration from directly imposing a “Carbon Tax” on us via the IRS.
The move is shockingly brazen and founded on economic and “climate” lies. As Travis Fisher and Gabriella Beaumont-Smith report for the Cato Institute:
“The long‐awaited text of Senator Bill Cassidy’s (R‑LA) legislation to impose a tax on imports based on ‘pollution intensity’ was released on November 3. Fisher’s previous piece highlighted how Senator Cassidy’s concept of a ‘foreign pollution fee’ is 1) a carbon tax on imports, 2) will hurt American consumers, and 3) lays the groundwork for a domestic carbon tax. Unfortunately, those facts remain upon inspection of the bill.”
They sure do. And Fisher and Beaumont-Smith hit many of the most dangerous and assumptive provisions of Cassidy’s monster:
“Specifically, in addition to the three concerns listed above, the Cassidy Carbon Tax:
- Inappropriately delegates powers to the executive branch.
- Improperly tasks the National Laboratories with establishing trade policy and the implied level of a carbon tax.
- Incorrectly defines ‘pollution’ exclusively as ‘greenhouse gas emissions.’
- Creates an arbitrary list of 16 'covered products.’
- Invites less carbon‐intensive countries to impose a carbon tariff on the United States.”
All of which invites anyone who teaches economics (like yours truly) or who has a notion of economic truth to recognize what author James Bovard explained so well in his book, “The Fair Trade Fraud”: tariffs might be allowed by the US Constitution, but they are economically destructive, harm consumers to the tune of eight times as much as the specific “American” businesses the politicians choose to “protect,” promote lethargy in the politically favored American businesses, and harm the ability of consumers to not only save money, but to direct that money towards other domestic businesses, perhaps start-ups, that could employ people and improve living standards.
And, of course, on any moral level, one must acknowledge that tariffs are a form of politician-pushed, government-enacted, theft.
But the stale and septic tariff idea is just part of this Cassidy proposed disaster-in-waiting.
The Cato authors note that Cassidy will hand the Department of the Treasury the power to control this “Carbon Tax/Tariff,” to expand it, or do anything any future “Chief Executive” might want, via the already rights-stifling “Executive Order” that Presidents seem to adore, or simply through Treasury Department “policy.” This implies that future tariff moves might come directly from the Treasury Secretary, rather than through the constitutionally mandated process of Congress passing tariff legislation.
And Cassidy’s bill not only hurts us and US manufacturers if we try to buy relatively inexpensive imported goods, its language lays the groundwork for domestic “Carbon” taxation:
“Although Senator Cassidy insists this foreign pollution fee is not a carbon tax, it is exactly a carbon tax on American import‐consuming businesses and consumers. Moreover, the establishment of any carbon pricing scheme in this part of the Code lays the groundwork for establishing a domestic carbon tax.”
Indeed, the Cassidy scheme would set into perpetual motion new bureaucratic government offices, where, far into the future, the bureaucrats would claim that something was a “climate threat” and then make us pay more if we wanted to engage in the sinful transgressions of actually buying it or selling it.
“In addition to giving too much authority over its carbon tax scheme to the executive branch, the Cassidy Carbon Tax creates a carbon pricing board. Specifically, section 4696 of the Cassidy Carbon Tax states, ‘There is hereby established the National Laboratory Advisory Board on Global Pollution Challenges.’ The duties of the board include calculating the baseline pollution intensity of the covered American goods and the respective pollution intensity of the covered foreign goods. The Board would be comprised of federal scientists, officials, and private sector CEOs to advise on the right tax rate.”
As I often stress, the concept of “pollution” rests solely on the idea of damage to person or private property, and is expressed through individual tort claims established under British Common Law. Carbon-dioxide is not a pollutant, and until someone brings another person to court and proves before a jury that he or she, or his or her property, has/have been damaged by “carbon emissions” from another person, no harm has been shown, and, in the end, no so-called “cost of carbon” can be determined.
It’s all just government gamesmanship, a theatre-act of the absurd in which politicians keep claiming that what actually is beneficial energy use is creating a “climate catastrophe” and then making up “costs” that really are just arbitrary ways for them to grab more money and control over us and business people.
In fact, as the Cato authors note, competitive markets help make our lives better and less polluted:
“The inappropriate framing of greenhouse gases as pollution misses a broader point about the pollution‐reducing benefits of free trade and global capitalism. The stated purpose of the bill (on page 4) is to ‘raise global environmental performance to ensure a healthy environment and secure global public health benefits.’ However, erecting high barriers to trade isn’t going to secure global public health benefits.
As a detailed report by the Center for Conservative Climate Solutions points out, economies that engage in free trade are cleaner, healthier, faster‐growing economies—as they characterize it, ‘free economies are clean economies.’ The Cassidy Carbon Tax takes the wrong approach by attempting to limit trade in the name of improving environmental performance.”
And there is much more, ranging from the sixteen items currently on Cassidy’s "carbon" tariff target list, to the fact that the history of tariff imposition has seen foreign nations respond by imposing their own tariffs on US exports.
That’s a bad idea, Mr. Cassidy.
Each new year sees more such pernicious policies and proposals, and they not only promote false premises, they take away more of our liberty.
Aren’t members of the GOP supposed to be aware of those facts?
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