By Bruce Parker | Vermont Watchdog
A Vermont statesman mocked in a now-infamous Jonathan Gruber video is back with a new warning for Vermonters: A proposed carbon tax will send gas prices soaring.
In the infamous “fifth Gruber video,” MIT professor Jonathan Gruber ridiculed Vermonter John McClaughry over his concerns that single-payer would be a disaster.
In comments read to Gruber and members of the Vermont House Health Care Committee in 2011, McClaughry opined:
“Any Hsiao-Gruber-type health care mega-System will inevitably lead to coercive mandates, ballooning costs, increasing taxes, bureaucratic outrages, shabby facilities, disgruntled providers, long waiting lines, lower quality care, special interest nest-feathering and destructive wage and price controls.”
Both the video and McClaughry’s comments went viral and were picked up by national news outlets ranging from Politco to Bloomberg.
Now McClaughry is back, this time with a warning about the carbon tax.
In a commentary released to news organizations ahead of the 2015 legislative session, the statesman warns that Vermonters face a barrage of new expenses related to a newly proposed carbon tax.
“Single payer health care taxes are gone for now, but there’s another hot idea in Montpelier for a new tax — the carbon tax. … Vermonters can look forward to today’s $3/gallon gasoline costing as much as $4.35, and paying a third more for natural gas, propane, heating fuel and diesel.”
The proposal, which is backed by a green-energy coalition that includes Vermont Public Interest Research Group, the Vermont Natural Resources Council and others, would tax distributors of gasoline, natural gas, heating oil and propane while exempting renewable energy businesses. McClaughry says the tax is being pushed by environmentalists and renewable-energy businesses with a vested interest in its passage.
According to a policy summary from Energy Independent Vermont, the proposal would assess taxes of between $50 and $150 per ton of CO2 emissions, generating a minimum of $35 million of tax revenue in 2017. In 2030, the tax could grab between $250 million and $700 million from Vermont businesses.
A wish-list of benefits imagined for the tax include 2-million tons of CO2 reductions by 2027, new jobs, and millions of dollars in refundable tax credits and rebates for individuals and non-carbon-polluter businesses.
According to McClaughry, the tax ultimately benefits renewable energy companies.
“The renewable industrial complex will cash in to the tune of $3.5 million the first year (at the $50 rate) to as much as an astounding $70 million (15) years out (at the $150 rate),” McClaughry states.
McClaughry argues renewable energy businesses will benefit monetarily because the state would be imposing punitive high taxes on their competitors.
Moreover, he says high taxes on traditional fuels will raise their price, forcing everyday consumers to buy green-oriented products like electric heat pumps and electric vehicles.
The former state senator said a misguided impulse to stop bad weather from occurring is the driving force behind the carbon tax.
“Why, you might ask, do already overtaxed Vermonters need a new tax on natural gas, heating oil, propane, gasoline and diesel fuel? The coalition spokespersons are unanimous on this: We must defeat ‘climate pollution — the biggest environmental challenge of our generation,’ he states.
“They profess to believe … that human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide are giving us ‘super storms and extreme weather events.’”
The Gruber-mocked Vermonter risks additional ridicule for taking on corporate CEOs and well-financed supporters like VPIRG. McClaughry, a political veteran who advised President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, takes it all in stride.
Asked by Vermont Watchdog how he felt about his treatment from Gruber, McClaughry responded, “He was having fun mocking critics. He should have known better. His personality type is to make fun of the ‘stupid’ voters.”
Contact Bruce Parker at firstname.lastname@example.org