Two prominent conservative activists pushed back Monday against a New York Times article suggesting that a campaign to prevent a carbon tax was the catalyst that inspired a GOP attack against science.
James Valvo and Phil Kerpen criticized TheNYT for suggesting that their promotion of an anti-carbon tax pledge generated a type of anti-science hysteria within the GOP. The two former Americans For Prosperity activists argue that the paper’s implication is ridiculous and does not accurately present what their No Carbon Tax pledge was attempting to accomplish.
“She put in her article that the turning point in the debate was the No Climate Pledge,” Valvo told The Daily Caller News Foundation about NYT reporter Coral Davenport’s June 3 article, “How G.O.P Leaders Came to View Climate Change as Fake Science.” He said that the pledge was always intended to prevent lawmakers from passing legislation that expanded government.
“We were concerned about the growth of government. The issue of climate change shouldn’t coincide with the growth of government,” said Valvo, who was with Americans for Prosperity (AFP) at the time of the campaign. He added that we wanted Republicans and Democrats to find solutions that were revenue neutral.
Valvo, a senior policy advisor at Cause of Action, said that he was “disappointed that they tried to make this about science,” but he ultimately believes it was a win for AFP’s pledge because the “NYT thinks we helped kill the carbon tax plans.”
The problem with TheNYT’s piece, he said, was that it promulgated a type of media narrative that makes it difficult to engage in meaningful and nuanced conversations about how to approach global warming. If lawmakers want to find solutions, then they must take politics and money out of the equation, Valvo added.
TheNYT columnists have pushed similar ideas in the past. Editorialist Tina Rosenberg argued in April that some Republicans, oil companies, and President Donald Trump voters are receptive to working with environmentalists on a carbon tax. Rosenberg says that all of these groups should unite behind a carbon tax plan written by Climate Leadership Council, a little-known group of Republican political appointees.
Critics say that carbon taxation disproportionately harms the poorest members of society.
The National Bureau of Economic Research conducted a study in 2009 finding that a carbon tax would double the tax burden on the poorest households, making it effectively impossible to have both a carbon tax and a living wage.
AFP’s effort, according to Davenport’s piece, picked up steam in 2009 after the House of Representatives passed cap-and-trade legislation during the latter half of the Bush administration. However the legislation, which created a cap on the overall amount of carbon pollution that could be emitted, ultimately died in the GOP-led Senate.
Former President Barack Obama would then use various executive mechanisms to enact regulations that stood no chance in Congress, such as the Clean Power Plan and the Paris climate agreement. Kerpen, for his part, takes offense to what many conservatives consider ham-fisted ways of pushing climate issues.
Obama’s actions and environmentalists’ ability to paint groups that oppose carbon taxes as archaic make nuance nearly impossible, Kerpen told TheDCNF, essentially mirroring the sentiments made by his former colleague.
Democrats appear ready “to believe that the American people are overwhelmingly with them but that shadowing group are preventing people from finding solutions,” said Kerpen, who now leads the free-market group American Commitment.
He referred to Davenport’s decision to dredge up AFP’s connections to the Koch brothers as evidence that the No Carbon Tax pledge factored into the Republican Party’s supposed anti-science rhetoric.
“Apparently science demands that we hide a tax increase inside legislation meant to solve man-made global warming,” Kerpen said.
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