Normally the Washington State environmental community speaks with one voice. Over the last decade, the “greens” have managed to iron out most of their differences behind closed doors and managed to emerge – usually with Democrat politicians in lockstep – pushing a unified, big-government agenda.
That is not the case this year, however. A nasty split has arisen over the issue of raising energy taxes between a grassroots group – CarbonWA – which has ignored the liberal rule that any environmental initiative has to include extra money for the government to spread among the Democrats’ favorite special interest groups.
But leave it to the far-Left Sightline Institute to play out the whole drama of the enviros’ angst in what has so far this week been two extremely long, extremely contorted articles trying to convince the big-government types that they really should look past the flaws of the carbon-tax approach and support the tax-raising ballot measure.
Now, the policy concerns surrounding Initiative 732 – the so-called carbon tax measure – have been well explored in previous Shift posts here, here, and here. And even the split among the enviros was covered in the mainstream media covered in the mainstream media last December, when the big-government greens tried to get the I-732 backers to kill their own initiative.
Sightline outlines the split itself in its introduction to the first article:
“When CarbonWA gathered the signatures needed to proceed to the ballot, the Alliance [editor’s note: the big-government greenies] urged CarbonWA to stand down and leave the November 2016 ballot uncluttered for an alternative climate policy [editor’s note: read a bigger tax increase that spreads more goodies around to those pushing the initiative] to be formulated by a broader coalition, including groups dedicated to social justice for historically marginalized communities.”
Essentially the author’s admit that while everyone (on their side) agrees that climate change is the most important issue in the world, they should be willing to set that belief aside when it comes to the truly top priority of raising taxes that create more government programs that green groups can benefit from.
The rest of the first article tries to make the case that the only way to evaluate the initiative is to consider what Sightline considers the “three most important policy questions to analyze” in deciding how to raise taxes on energy. The first two questions tell you all you need to know about the big-government enviro mindset: “How high is the price” on carbon and “What is the revenue used for”.
In other words, no need to consider the economic impact on taxpayers or on businesses that depend on Washington’s traditionally low costs for energy. Just determine how high you can set the price of your tax increase without causing too much political trouble. And, also make sure you look at how that tax money is spent, to ensure it is going to the people who support Democrat politicians, because that’s how we get more big-government policies in the future.
In the second article, Sightline’s writers try to convince the greenies that the new carbon tax would not actually blow a huge hole in the state budget, as the state’s own fiscal analysts have conclude. From the perspective of the far-Left, hundreds of millions of dollars a year doesn’t really matter, because as Sightline writes “Even if the Department’s estimates are correct, I-732 will still be a rounding error, decreasing state tax revenue by less than 1 percent.”
The fact that 1% of the state’s $20 billion a year in tax collections is $200 million dollars is just “a rounding error” again tells you all you need to know about the big-government mindset: what’s $200 million a year to the liberals – it’s not like that money is coming out of their pockets!
We can hardly wait for the next installment of Sightline’s apologist series on the carbon tax. What will the far-Left come up with next for why it’s a good idea to jack up our gas prices and the cost of everything we buy?