Last week, the Democratic Party reaped the fruits of outsourcing its budget-writing to self-identified socialist Bernie Sanders.
We have yet to see the details of the epic, unprecedented, never-before-seen agreement among the ten Democratic Senators and the one socialist chairman – Mr. Sanders — of the Senate Budget Committee to spend $3.5 trillion more of your money to entrench even more government involvement in your life.
But we can make a few educated guesses about what might be in there. For instance, Senator Warner has told us that everything is “paid for” – meaning that the amount to be spent will be matched by tax increases.
That’s good to know.
Let’s remember where we started. President Biden’s original “infrastructure” plan proposed that the federal government spend about $2.65 trillion over 8 years. As part of that, Mr. Biden proposed that the taxpayers spend about $180 billion each year to address climate change.
For contextual purposes, there are about 130 million households in the United States, which means that the proposal would require American households, on average, to pay about $1400 a year to address climate change.
It seems reasonable to assume that the Senate Budget Committee’s budget resolution – the first step in the reconciliation process — is probably in the same ballpark.
So, taking Senator Warner at his word, taxpayers are going to pay the equivalent of $1400 a year in new taxes just to support the new spending on climate change. A brand new $1400 annual energy tax per household seems like a lot, especially for the poor, the elderly, those on fixed incomes, and local institutions like schools and hospitals.
Don’t be distracted or fooled. Corporations don’t pay taxes; they only collect taxes, and very inefficiently at that. The tax increases embedded in this plan will all ultimately be paid by consumers, taxpayers, or ratepayers – the “ordinary people” Mr. Biden claims to care about – through higher taxes, lower wages, or reduced economic growth.
There is, unfortunately, more bad news.
Tucked into last week’s press blitz on the agreement among the Senate Socialists and Democrats was a quiet announcement that one of the new taxes embedded in the resolution was something called a carbon border adjustment mechanism.
That word salad translated into English means the Senate Democrats have agreed to impose an energy tax on imported goods. That tax will be paid by consumers who use oil, natural gas, or coal, or anything transported by trucks or planes or cars, or anything made of or with oil or natural gas, which means just about everything made by humans.
Taxing carbon dioxide, at the border, at the source, at the user level, or anywhere else, is a tax on energy. Those who want to impose it on us can call it whatever they want — carbon pricing, a polluter import fee, a border adjustment mechanism – but it’s still a tax on energy that will make everything more expensive.
So, the $1400 annual energy tax in the original proposal is a minimum; the final cost will be much higher.
If you are wondering what voters think about this, the American Energy Alliance has been asking in surveys for years how much voters would be willing to pay to address climate change. The median answer – the one right in the middle of the responses – has ranged from 20 to 50 dollars a year. Usually, more than a third of the respondents say “nothing”.
The federal government already spends $30 billion each year on climate change. That’s a little less than $250 per household per year, which is somewhere between 5 and 10 times as much as voters seem willing to spend.
By adding $1400 more each year to that already impressive burden, Socialist Senator Sanders and his partner in the White House are punishing the “ordinary people” they claim to care about.
When he announced his initial proposal, Mr. Biden tried to defend raising taxes to help pay for his plan, saying he’s “not trying to punish anyone … [but he’s] sick and tired of ordinary people being fleeced.”
He seems okay with it, though, if he is doing the fleecing and if it’s hidden deep inside a socialist wish list. The president’s campaign promise not to raise taxes on those making less than $400,000 a year? That was always a fantasy, which we may now dispense.
One final thought bears notice. In light of the incredibly destructive budget resolution from the Senate Budget Committee, no Republican can, in good conscience, vote for any part of this fleecing of American taxpayers. The “bipartisan” infrastructure deal is now tangled up with the $3.5 trillion monstrosity to the point where they are inseparable.
The only right answer is to oppose all of it.
• Michael McKenna, a columnist for The Washington Times, is the president of MWR Strategies. He was most recently a deputy assistant to President Trump and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House.