Grover Norquist Abruptly Changes Position On Carbon Tax After Facing Criticism From Koch-Backed Group

Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist raised a lot of eyebrows on Monday when he told National Journal that a carbon tax might be on the table if it were swapped with a cut to the income tax.

“It’s possible you could structure something that wasn’t an increase and didn’t violate the pledge,” he reportedly said.

As president of Americans for Tax Reform, Norquist has convinced hundreds of members of Congress to sign a pledge that they will never raise taxes. While his influence appears to be waning in Washington, Norquist’s tax pledge is still considered gospel for many Republicans. That’s why his willingness to consider a tax on global warming pollution is a big deal in political circles.

But one day later, after being criticized by the American Energy Alliance, the advocacy arm of a Koch-supported energy think tank devoted to promoting fossil fuel development, Norquist has completely reversed his statement, saying there virtually “no conceivable way” he could support a tax on carbon.

“Grover, just butch it up and oppose this lousy idea directly. This word-smithing is giving us all headaches,” wrote AEA in its newsletter, while promoting a newly-published study labeling carbon taxes “political cronyism.”

Americans for Tax Reform issued this statement this morning:

Americans for Tax Reform opposes a carbon tax and will work tirelessly to ensure one does not become law.

Taxing American energy consumption not only opens up a new revenue stream for proponents of big government, but threatens to forever damage the American economy.

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist describes a carbon tax this way:

“The creation of any new tax such as a VAT or energy tax — even if originally passed with offsetting tax reductions elsewhere — would inevitably lead to higher taxes as two taxes would be at the disposal of politicians to increase taxes. Two smaller tapeworms are not an improvement over one big tapeworm. Tapeworms and taxes grow.

There is no conceivable way to add an energy or VAT tax to the burdens American taxpayers face that would not violate the pledge over time.  If someone first passed and implemented a constitutional amendment with 2/3 of the House and Senate and 3/4 of the states concurring to forbid the restoration of the income tax, we might more safely consider passing a VAT or energy VAT. And then it would be foolish and economically destructive thing to do.”

Meanwhile, conservatives who understand the threat of climate change continue to discuss the prospects for pricing carbon in Obama’s second term, possibly as part of a grand bargain on a deficit deal. While some consider taxing carbon pollution a “pipe dream,” others believe it’s one of the only opportunities to get Congressional Republicans to support a carbon reduction policy. Norquist’s immediate reversal shows just how difficult it will be to bring enough Republicans around on the issue and get something done.

The Obama Administration said last week that it has no intentions to introduce a carbon tax proposal.

43 Responses to Grover Norquist Abruptly Changes Position On Carbon Tax After Facing Criticism From Koch-Backed Group

  1. Gingerbaker says:

    I wonder if Grover Norquist would like to have all the energy bills of his family, for the next two thousand years, to be payed for by a government program if it only cost him a few thousand dollars spread out over a couple of decades?

    Think he might be in favor of that?

  2. Mike Roddy says:

    Koch and Tillerson were always the ones calling the shots, not tweedy little mouthpieces like Norquist. How dare he suggest a tax on carbon! The big boys just spanked him and sent him to his room.

    The world is being threatened by a bunch of greed crazed hillbillies, along with the bankers and fund managers who lap up their dribbles. It’s up to us to stop them.

  3. catman306 says:

    “Koch and Tillerson were always the ones calling the shots (for Norquist, et. al.).”

    That’s the message to be repeated.

    Talk about flip-flopping.

  4. Aaron says:

    Quote: “It’s possible you could structure something that wasn’t an increase and didn’t violate the pledge,”

    Yeah… or… how about we get rid of the pledge and just use some common sense? Republicans ned toe stop turning their politics into a religion.

  5. robert weissman says:

    well if there was ever a question who pulled his strings, and dosn’t he loose a lot of cred , if he ever had it, with a move like this

  6. If you want a conservative’s view of why nothing is ready to change, especially regards the climate, you have only to read this post by D. R. Tucker at Huffington Post.

    Thanks to @ChrisMooney for the link.

  7. Zimzone says:

    Koch Industries is the real tapeworm, gutting our planet while making billions extracting earth’s natural resources that EVERYONE owns.

  8. Merrelyn Emery says:

    The AEA must think they have a good hand to play poker that badly, how cocky and arrogant can you get? May not win the night though, ME

  9. facts lean left says:

    Spinelessness is a Republican requirement.

  10. Chris Winter says:

    So Norquist had a moment of rationality, only to be quickly quashed by the plutocratic puppet-masters.

    And now the organization he heads, Americans for Tax Reform, has vowed to work tirelessly to prevent the most vital item of tax reform — carbon tax — from ever becoming law, even if it’s part of a deal that doesn’t increase the net tax burden on anybody.

    Mike Roddy is right, and the rightards’ reaction to this election just underscores that: They will not stop of their own accord, so they must be stopped.

  11. RobS says:

    This is the death knell of the American Republican Party, what the election showed is that the Republican Party needs reform and compromise if they are to survive and attract new voters. Their highest voting blocks were the elderly, over the next few years their voters are literally going to die.
    The issue is that this move by Koch shows that the people who provide the money and pull the strings behind the scenes of the Republicans will not tolerate any reform or compromise. Their is an ideological war being waged within the Republican Party at present between those who feel they lost by being too right and those who think they lost by being not right enough. I think the hard right may win that fight and I expect if they do the Republican Party may be so summarily beaten over the next few yard that the party will not survive.

  12. Ozonator says:

    If this was an extremist media outlet, the victim in all of this would be Evil Inhofe. Evil is losing his position on the Senate’s Environmental committee making available tons of free and hidden extremist investor money. With the election of the once and future President Obama, Grover Norquist has a current better brand name than Watts, Morano, Rove, and Limbaugh. Thus, the EssoKochs are now paying Grover out of funds getting little traction or losing big time with their other neuticles.

  13. Mike Roddy says:

    We’ve counted them out before, and they still
    have a pretty big constituency:

  14. Robco1 says:

    This incident should point out very clearly to Democratic Party members and Climate Hawks alike that the plutocrats have no intention of letting their lapdogs in congress or K Street off the leash anytime soon.

    If the Dems have any sense they’ll point out Republican corruption and hypocrisy in serving the Kochtopus instead of the American public, and do so early and often.

    If the Climate Hawk community has any sense they’ll hold the Democratic party’s feet to the fire, demanding real action before it is too late.

  15. BigPoppa says:

    Hey, let’s play a game!!! It’s a game of make believe, called “Grover Matters”

  16. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I suspect a double-game here, with feints and fake motives. These are slippery blighters, who could sleep comfortably on a corkscrew. They’ll accept a carbon tax, then rort it, and take tax cuts as well.

  17. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    It’s the end-stage of negative evolution, where extreme greed, unbridled egotism and complete antipathy to others is rewarded by an evil system, capitalism, with absolute power, mediated by money.

  18. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Yes, and the danger of a descent into fascism and some sort of putsch grows greater. A JFK who thought he could be President in contest with the ‘Secret Team’ who really run America, can be handled easily enough, so I’m certain Obama has no plans, whatsoever, to upset the owners, therefore rulers, of the USA.

  19. Merrelyn Emery says:

    It’s not evolution but a bad decision about organization made by humans about 250 years ago. Made by people, can be changed by people, ME

  20. John McCormick says:

    Mike, republicans view politics and governing as a business.

    Democrats view politics and governing as public service.

  21. The solar revolution has started. Hundreds of companies are installing solar power stations across the globe. Thousands will follow, when they see the financial benefits and realize how short-sighted they were to wait. Thousands of individuals have installed solar panels on their homes. Millions will follow, when they learn of their success over time and see the falling price of solar panels reach a level that makes it so cheap that only a stupid person would wait longer. Already there are thousands of new solar systems being installed every week. That will change to thousands every day. It is inevitable. The Chinese know it. The Europeans know it. Why don’t we? Because the media has been keeping it under wraps. Educate your friends and neighbors. Find the most convincing video and post it on your Facebook wall, your blog, your G+ profile. The solution is education, and we have to do that ourselves. Stop complaining, and start spreading the word.

  22. Tom Harrison says:

    Not sure I could go as far as “rationality” … but we’re seeing chinks in the armor. Finally.

  23. michael says:

    Norquist needs to go away. he is no longer relevant. bring back some one who can sit at a table and find compromise. allot of the old farts need to go with him

  24. Mike Roddy says:

    In the California desert, one of the sunniest places on earth with high electricity prices, most homes don’t have solar. It’s a matter of economics. Telling your friends on Facebook won’t change that.

    In the cities, many homes don’t have enough rooftop space, especially multifamily.

    I love solar and manufactured some of the best panels at the time in the late 70’s at Alten in Mountain View. They will become economical when coal and gas pay for externalities, including carbon emissions.

  25. I’m hopeful about this public flip-flop.

    First it shows the incredible momentum building inside the GOP for a climate exit strategy that Norquist said positive things about a carbon-funded tax cut.

    Second it highlights for everyone to see just how dirty energy interests are the puppet masters of people like Norquist and the tea-party.

    The reality is that the GOP desperately need:

    1) climate solution
    2) revenue to pay for tax cuts
    3) revenue to cut deficit

    A mix of carbon-funded tax cuts and carbon-funded deficit reduction is their only hope to achieve all of these.

    Norquist doing the Romnesia thing on a conservative-minded solution to climate isn’t going to help him at all. He tried to jump in and find a relevant spot for himself going forward…then threw it all away when his sugar daddy got grumpy — the Grover Grovel. Inspiring.

  26. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The lunatic Right in Australia are exactly alike to their US counterparts. The Murdoch evil is a shared infestation, his local rags being the very epicentre of every extreme Rightwing poison, hate campaign and ideological derangement, particularly climate derangement denialism, which is akin to a cult, particularly at ‘The Australian’. I’ve long been of the opinion that Murdoch will be seen by our very brief posterity as one of the most destructive creatures to have ever drawn breath.

  27. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Spines they have. And spleen, aplenty. It’s brains and hearts that are missing.

  28. William P. Gloege says:

    Why do we care what Norquist says or thinks? This weasel’s days are nearing an end as Republicans realize how wrong it is for a Representative to promise a vote to somebody like Norquist on anything. Representatives represent their District – period.

  29. Norquist’s twist isn’t a surprise. What surprised me is that he supported the carbon tax to begin with.

    Like most of the other right-wing think tank mavens and “senior fellows,” Norquist is just a useful idiot to his employers. What a joke of a human being.

  30. Kent Doering says:

    This shows you how spineless an ass kisser Grover really is.

    Europe is leaving America behind in renewables because we don´t have the Koch Brothers. To them I say: “AbraxassatannatassaxarbA.”

  31. John Mashey says:

    Actually, before he was owned by the Kochs, he was owned by the tobacco folks.

    289 hits in tobacco archives for Grover Norquist, such as a few from just the first few pages of hits:

    Phlip Morris considered him one of few Key Allies.

    RJR paid for Norquist appearance, legislative contact.

    See PDF @ Fakery 2:

    p.39: Phlip Morris (PM) 1991-2001 funding of thinktanks. At $1,385K, ATR is #2 on the list, ahead of CATO and CEI.

    p.40 what ATR did for Philip Morris: Press releases, letters to Congress, media, position papers.

    Given that Norquist was happy to take money from tobacco companies to help them stay in business, i.e., by addicting children to something that would kill many of them slowly, why would anyone expect anything else of him?

  32. Kent Doering says:

    Well, Mike. Solar has changed, and we´re puttingup solar in Germany with a much lower solar energy input. (Its latitude is approx that of Seattle to the S.E. Alaskan border, i.e. British Columbia. And we do put up solar in single building and multi-family dwellings. Over 30 GWW installed as of this year. Rooftop solar. We boost efficiencies up to between 15- 18% on the average. A new patent of mine will cost effectively goose efficiencies to between 30 to 44% which is max.
    The U.S. once lead the world in sustainable systems- under President James Earl Carter- but relinguished that lead with the election of Ronald Reagan.

    Germany now leads “The Global War Against Global Warming” and the rest of the world is slowly coming on board. The U.S. is again, last in line on this.

  33. Kent Doering says:

    That is why Grover is going to take a jar of vaseline with him into the life hereafter, so he can liberally smear his long,lying brown nose with it before he sniff´s the devils´s behinds like he is used to doing with the Koch Brothers- who will most likely be “chief devils” down there. (Somebody had a parable about the “Rich Man in Hell” didn´t they?)

  34. JOHN BASKETTE says:

    Someone posted something about “CLIMATE CHANGE”
    That anyone denying it IS “DENYING REALITY”.
    The last I checked the atmosphere is GLOBAL!
    With that in mind who or what is going to stop the coal mines from burning uncontrollably for the past decade?

    John Baskette

  35. Daniel Coffey says:

    Grover protects the richest 125,000 families and entities from increased taxes by shifting costs via regressive consumption-sytle taxes to the larger population. Brilliant, but thoughtful people will ask the richest people to put their money in the pot to support a fairer society, and to prevent less well off paying the difference they would otherwise avoid.

  36. Toby Thaler says:

    The problematic paradigm(s) started developing a lot longer than 250 years ago. See, e.g., I. Wallerstein on World-Systems Analysis.

  37. Jim Bush says:

    Actually, we need a Value-Added Tax (VAT) to replace the job-killing FICA payroll tax that finances Social Security and Medicare.

    The payroll tax encourages employers to replace people with automation or imports. Employers often get investment tax credits when they automate to eliminate jobs.

    The imports usually come here tax free, because most of the countries who sell to US have VATs, which are rebated to exporting companies.

    International trade agreements allow VATs to be rebated, but not payroll taxes.

    Our trade deficit is running $1.5 billion/day; it was $2 billion/day before the recession.

    American businesses need a VAT to replace the FICA payroll tax. God Bless America!

  38. Grover Norquist is a man about to learn new things.

  39. Jan says:

    My own roof system will save about 80K over its lifetime.

    My congregation will save close to $1 million over 35 years with a 30KW system that cost about $85K after rebates. There are “lines” going round the block for these systems; the rebates run out too soon, though. Get in line, my friends.

  40. Jan says:

    The puppeteer was actually a puppet itself. Whoda’ guessed?

  41. quokka says:

    That odd, Wikipedia gives the capacity factor of utility scale PV in Germany as about 11%. It’s hard to credit that roof top PV would be any higher. Probably lower.

  42. Charles Zeller says:

    They know how to communicate to their base Mike.

    “The president was committed; elected on the basis that he was not Romney and Romney was a poopy head” – Grover to Norah O’Donnell.