Carbon Tax Hysteria

I’ve been staying off the GMD front page during my campaign to return to the House, but I just can’t stay silent while the Vermont GOP slings hyperbolic lies in Franklin County and on the internet. Our friend at the Vermont Political Observer has been covering the fuzzy math on this, but I want to call attention to a couple of local candidates who are beating the drum louder and louder in Franklin County.

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I walked in to get some documents about my parent’s property at the Swanton Town Clerk a few months ago around the end of the session, and Rep. Marianna Gamache had left a petition on the counter.  It had a shocking headline: “STOP THE DEMOCRATS’ CARBON TAX!”

A Franklin County Republican once told me that there’s a big difference between being an advocate and being a legislator and boy does someone need to take his advice. The more radical Carbon Tax proposals have no hope of moving forward as is, but they bring up important conversations that we need to be having. I wouldn’t support a carbon tax that dramatically increased the cost of gas or heating fuels in a single year, but there are some related policies that are going to be critical to our energy and transportation infrastructure in the coming years.

One such policy, with bipartisan support, is moving from “cents-per-gallon” fuel taxes to a “vehicle miles traveled” approach to paying for our transportation budget. I drive a hybrid and get 52 mpg in the summer. That means I fill up half as much as the average car, and pay half the amount of fuel taxes. As cars have become more efficient, and some drivers have gone fully electric, the transportation fund has taken a hit. With alternative fuels there is a disconnect between how much fuel you pump and how many miles you drive. We have to make sure the way we pay for the roads is fair and doesn’t overburden a particular group of users. Wow, something Phil Scott and I agree on.
Another example is a heating fuel surcharge to support low-income weatherization. I’ve always thought that it was crazy to give heating subsidies to folks year after year (LIHEAP) when we could make their homes more comfortable and energy efficient with a one-time investment in insulation and other cost-effective weatherization.
So, would Mike McCarthy support a big scary carbon tax that radically increases costs to everyday Vermonters? No. I would however make improvements to how we pay for the heating and transportation programs that are smart policy and better for the environment. These energy policies will save the vast majority of Vermonters lots of money compared to the way we currently pay for heat and transportation programs.
Most of what you just read was published as a response to the County Courier’s candidate question of the week: “Do you support the proposed carbon tax?” Do you know what Rep. Corey Parent’s response to this question was? One line: “No, because we cannot afford it.”
Thanks for the thoughtful discourse on climate change and energy policy Franklin County Republicans. This is about what we’ve all come to expect.

About Mike McCarthy

I'm a guitar-playing Democrat living in Saint Albans, VT with my wife Steph and my daughter Molly. I represented Saint Albans in the VT House in 2013-2014. I care about good government, and a safe, healthier world for all of us. I work for an awesome solar company and love helping Vermonters re-power our communities.

2 thoughts on “Carbon Tax Hysteria

  1. Interestingly VPO also had a math error which was corrected so fuzzy math all around. Funny thing they’re weirdly common.

    Not revenue neutral which is its biggest selling point:

    We drive for a living so worth it to buy bulk wherever the cost is lower. The border towns take another hit as everyone would be more likely to fill up in NH or wherever price is lower & shop there also.

    Gas tax for roads should be based on weight of vehicle x miles as that is the biggest road destroyer. Tractor trailer trucks are primary contributor to wear & tear which is why we have weigh stations. This way we do not need monitoring just pull into a weigh station twice a year — done.

    Although we could do the same thing with a bi-annual mileage check with bi-yearly inspection it does not reflect the main cause of road wear. This formula would not punish the purchase of energy efficient vehicles but would encourage them.

    We have a Prius est wght 3100, plus an old Honda est 2400, Subaru 3200, Cherokee 4000 the vehicles with the best mileage are very lightweight and aerodynamically designed.

    Many large SUVs are at least double in weight. Ford F150, 250 & 350 go up with each model. Could also serve to encourage buyers to move to the smaller rigs or limit the use of the big SUVs for multi-car families.

    If it were a simple excise tax of .08 on national level dedicated to its stated purpose it’s bad enough but could be grudgingly accepted rather than the bureaucratic boondoggle legislature is/was proposing. Obama wants to tax it at the barrel level which would raise the cost of carbon products.

    Should be done on the federal level & personally believe it will be. VT tax would then actually amount to a gouge, would we then have two taxes? If so this is the real rush to pushing it at this time.

    Opposed b/c other costs such as health care have sucked up over and above what we used to pay for gas. We know this b/c savings has not been returned to the economy as in spending.

    Spending our money is what lawmakers do best. *ALL* wages remain stagnant while other costs have risen — it’s another bureaucratic revenue stream scheme as it is not dedicated to intended purpose but can be robbed for other uses. Another drain on the overburdened low to high wage earners. Any payout will be years later however all would pay until tax filing.

    VT residents pay an invisible but heavy excise tax on many things — as it is we *are* paying alot already. Liquor is like $6.00 plus tax per gallon but seems to be closer to $10, which I happened to notice when buying in NH, have heard like $2.25 per pack cigarettes, another for soda & bottled drinks — what isn’t taxed.

    Vermont Gas Tax
    “While gasoline purchases in Vermont are not subject to sales tax, there is an excise tax on fuel in Vermont. The state tax on regular gasoline totals 31.97 cents per gallon, which is the 13th highest gas tax in the country. The state tax on diesel fuel is 32 cents per gallon, 15th highest in the nation”

  2. I hear you on the “thoughtful discourse.” It seems that we have devolved into little more than headline slinging; and an unfortunately large segment of the population never investigates beyond the headline.

    “Stop the Democrat’s Carbon Tax?” That calls for a retort of “Stop the Republican’s Climate Change.”

    We live in an extremely privileged ‘first world’ country; and we are fully able to develop offsets that will shield the most vulnerable from the effects of taxation that is necessary in order to address the global impact of our national consumption habits.

    It is all too easy for Republicans, who seem to have forgotten how to govern, to counteract any common sense effort toward addressing real life problems like climate change, by lamenting the supposed impact on the poor. Their interest in the poor, however, seems to be entirely limited to exploitation in order to further their own anti-tax agenda; and they would most certainly be the first to oppose any plan for relieving the poor from their ‘share’ of any tax.

    Unfortunately, taxes are the penultimate dog-whistle topic in Franklin County, and therefore irresistible to lazy GOP-ers who’d prefer not to devote too much grey matter to the larger issues that trouble our future.

    For a party that supposedly loves God and Country so much, they seem to have little appetite for functional government, which is, after all, the fiber that holds ‘Country’ together.

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