10-24-16 – Fact Checking Mike McCarthy’s Carbon Tax “Fear Mongering” Charge

by Rob Roper

The Ethan Allen Institute’s radio campaign on the Carbon Tax is having an impact, as you can see from the following video clip from a recent debate between Rep. Corey Parent (R) and Mike McCarthy (D) from St. Albans. The heat is also causing some candidates who support the Carbon Tax to throw up a cloud of misinformation that needs to be addressed. McCarthy accuses EAI and others of “fear mongering,” but here are the facts…

In the first half of the clip, Parent confronts McCarthy about a postcard from VPIRG signed by McCarthy urging the recipient to support the VPIRG/Energy Independent Vermont (EIV) Carbon Tax proposal. McCarthy responds by saying, “I think there’s a difference between supporting a revenue neutral way to make sure we can fund weatherization, and to save Vermonters money, and responsible controls of pollution, and an effort on climate change.” That’s not what he supported.

Revenue Neutral. The Carbon Tax proposal put forward by VPIRG and supported by McCarthy is not revenue neutral. The bill would redirect 90% of the revenue raised back to select populations through welfare payments, tax credits, per-employee credits and a reduction in the sales and use tax from 6% to 5%. The ten percent skimmed off the top would, according to the proposal, go in part to weatherization programs as well as to subsidize renewable energy projects. But, this is an overall tax increase to fund new government programs. It is by no means revenue neutral.

Save Vermonters Money. This is flat out false. You cannot honestly take a dollar from people, give them back 90¢, and tell them they are saving money. Adding 88¢ to every gallon of gas, $1.02 to every gallon of diesel and home heating oil, etc. will create a tremendous financial burden for Vermonters, particularly the middle class who will not qualify (households earning less than $24,000/yr.) for low income rebates designed to lessen the financial blow the tax will have on the poor. It’s important to understand that even if this proposal succeeds in redistributing 90% of the revenue back to various groups, not every individual will get back 90% of what they pay in Carbon Taxes. Some will get more, most much less.

Climate Change. Implementing a Vermont Carbon Tax would have zero impact on climate trends.

Carbon Tax Testimony. McCarthy then goes on to claim that the legislation based on the VPIRG/EIV proposal “sat on the wall,” in committee. This is also false. The House Natural Resources & Energy Committee took extensive testimony over two years on the bill (here’s a clip of some of that testimony). And, as the chair of that committee, Tony Klein (D-East Montpelier) in on the record saying that passing a Carbon Tax is a three-year process. Three years is 2017. They have spent the last two years laying the groundwork for passage.

McCarthy finally calls adding an 89¢ tax to gasoline an “extreme” version of a Carbon Tax proposal, and claims to be offended for being accused of supporting something so extreme. He says, “I never supported that.” McCarthty is right about one thing: the VPIRG/EIV Carbon Tax proposal is extreme. However, it is exactly the proposal to which he gave his signature of support: An 89¢ increase for gasoline, $1.02 for diesel and home heating oil, 58¢ for natural gas and propane, similar increases for kerosene, butane and aviation gasoline. Overall, when fully implemented, $500,000,000/year tax on Vermonters trying to drive to a job, heat their homes, work the landscape, etc.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

John McClaughry October 24, 2016 at 2:02 pm

Exactly right, Rob. I could respect a flat out, honest advocate of a carbon tax for making his/her case (however feeble that case may be). but I am fed up with desperate people simply lying about the actual provisions of the carbon tax bill.


Jim Manahan October 24, 2016 at 2:35 pm

Lying about the actual provisions of the carbon tax bill is no surprise to those of us who have witnessed Gov. Shumlin in action since his days in the Senate. Mike McCarthy must have been paying close attention, because he is just as offensive as Shumlin. McCarthy has no business running if he is going to be just another dishonest Democrat.


Valerie Mullin October 24, 2016 at 6:16 pm

Since when do the facts count as “Fear Mongering”? Only when facts don’t slant in the direction of Montpelier’s super majority.


Chuck Johnson October 24, 2016 at 9:54 pm

This “tax” has consequence far greater than fuel prices. It will affect every good and service for every individual and business in Vermont. From our “sacred cow” of tourism to the value of our homes, no resident or visitor will escape. There will be a minority that benefit- those that receive “rebates” and those cashing in on the “green energy” mania. We don’t need the economic calamity this will bring.
If solar and wind are so great, why as I travel do I see so little outside of the northeast?
Oh yeah, nuclear power is abundant in the south.


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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

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