A cap-and-trade program that auctions 100 percent of its pollution permits and refunds the auction revenue back to taxpayers is functionally equivalent to a refunded carbon tax — or at least as close to a functional equivalent as carbon policy is likely to get in this world.
So when Obama unveiled a budget that contained a cap-and-trade program with 100 percent auctions and 80 percent rebates, you’d think advocates of refunded carbon taxes would have been thrilled. They could have said, "this isn’t exactly what I’d advocate, but it’s a step in the right direction. I welcome Obama’s willingness to compromise."
So what did Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who allegedly supports a refunded carbon tax, do?
He called the proposal "sleight of hand." He said:
I guess his claim on Tuesday night that no one earning under $250,000 would pay more in taxes did not apply to this massive climate tax increase all Americans will pay.
This, remember, is from a guy who allegedly wants a carbon tax.
Moments later, Corker’s office said:
Corker has worked to ensure that whatever Congress implements, be it a cap-and-trade system that acts as a tax or a transparent carbon tax, that 100 percent of the tax revenue is returned to the American people and is not used to increase the size of government.
Obama proposed an auctioned system that returns 80 percent of the revenue. Corker wants 100 percent of the revenue returned. Because he didn’t get exactly what he wanted — only 80 percent of what he wanted — Corker is badmouthing the plan and working to destroy it.
Corker has talked his way inside the carbon policy tent and now he’s trying to burn it down. He’s got lots of company.