On Tuesday, Grover Norquist walked back his comments about a possible carbon tax swap (which would reduce income taxes while taxing carbon emissions), one day after the staunch anti-tax advocate suggested it would not violate his famed Taxpayer Protection Pledge.
Norquist now says 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.” He added, “it would be [a] foolish and economically destructive thing to do.”
“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,” Norquist said. “Two smaller tapeworms are not an improvement over one big tapeworm. Tapeworms and taxes grow.”
On Monday, in an interview with the National Journal, Norquist said that a “carbon tax swap” would not violate his anti-tax pledge, saying, “It’s possible you could structure something that wasn’t an increase and didn’t violate the pledge.”
In the same interview, Norquist acknowledged a carbon tax would “infuriate taxpayers” and noted Democrats, when they had majorities in both house of Congress in 2009, would have passed a cap-and-trade system if they “thought it was a good idea and the country wouldn’t hate them for it.”
Americans rejected Democrats’ attempts at passing cap-and-trade legislation in 2009. Norquist should be aware that once a carbon tax is instituted, it would be nearly impossible to eliminate, as his comments today suggest.