The Senate gives an energy levy a double thumbs down.
WSJ.COM 3/29/13: Proposals for that hardy Al Gore perennial, a carbon tax, are making a comeback. But if last weekend's votes in the Senate are any guide, the idea is going to require a lot more political persuasion.
The media ignored Harry Reid's budget vote-a-rama, but along the way Senators were allowed to declare on a pair of amendments related to energy taxes. First up was Rhode Island liberal Sheldon Whitehouse, who wanted to reserve any carbon-tax revenues to reduce the deficit or redistribute to certain voters. Apparently Mr. Whitehouse sees a carbon levy as inevitable and wants to make sure he's the middleman.
The Democrat waxed liturgical in support: "We have a new pope, Pope Francis, who said last week that our relation with God's creation is not very good right now. God's creation runs by laws—the laws of nature, the laws of physics, the laws of chemistry—and God gave us the power of reason to understand those laws. But they are not negotiable. They are not subject to amendment or repeal. And the arrogance of our thinking that they are is an offense to His creation."
We promise he gets to a carbon tax.
"We can ignore obvious facts, we can ignore the essentially unanimous science, we can ignore our generals and admirals, we can ignore the insurance industry's warnings, but we ignore carbon pollution at our peril," Mr. Whitehouse continued.
To which Missouri Republican Roy Blunt replied: "I know the pope also mentioned, more times than he mentioned carbon tax, helping the poor." And "I would just say, when the poor family cannot pay their utility bill . . . " The Whitehouse amendment lost 58-41, with 13 Democrats joining every Republican in opposition.
Mr. Blunt then rose to offer his own amendment—without a papal invocation—to require 60 Senate votes to impose an energy tax. His amendment passed 53-46, with eight Democrats joining a united GOP. Perhaps these heretical Democrats figured that a Senate budget outline that already raised taxes by $1 trillion was enough.
Some of our conservative friends want us to endorse a carbon tax, and it certainly beats taxing income. But until someone finds a way to stop the Whitehouse liberals from using the additional revenue simply to expand the government, we're with the poor and the Senate's anti-carbon tax majority.