Republican leaders on Capitol Hill and their anti-tax allies are moving quickly to crush conservative proposals for a carbon tax before they even have time to breathe.
The carbon dividends plan, recently put forth by Republican elders such as James A. Baker III and George P. Shultz, has been cast as something of a conservative blueprint for how to address pollution while returning thousands of dollars to American taxpayers.
For a few days, at least, the plan reignited carbon tax talk within Republican circles, where such conservations had been dormant for years. The elders’ Climate Leadership Council even met with high-ranking White House officials two weeks ago.
But the supposed rebirth of the carbon tax debate lasted briefly. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, and the powerful House Ways and Means Committee confirmed separately last week that any form of the notion has zero chance of even being considered in this Congress.
Doug Andres, a spokesman for Mr. Ryan, said he could rule out any plans for a carbon tax, echoing the House Ways and Means Committee, the panel responsible for writing tax law.
Meanwhile, a coalition of groups outside government — including the American Energy Alliance and Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform — sent a letter asking the White House for a meeting with chief economic adviser Gary Cohn.
The purpose of such a meeting, they said, is to explain why any carbon tax proposal would hamper economic growth.
“Our organizations have significant concerns regarding any prospective carbon tax proposal. Such a policy would place undue economic burdens on American families and businesses by intentionally increasing the cost of the energy they rely on every day,” the coalition wrote.
The rapid pushback underscores how far the notion of a carbon tax has fallen in the eyes of leading Republicans.
A decade ago, prominent Republicans such as Sen. John McCain of Arizona supported a form of attaching financial costs to carbon emissions. His proposal favored something of a cap-and-trade system that, while technically not a tax, would offer financial incentives to cut emissions.
Such ideas now are all but absent from Republican policy prescriptions.