Buttigieg Supports a Carbon Tax, With Proceeds Going to Low- and Middle-Income People

By Susan Jones | February 19, 2020 | 7:49am EST
Employees of SunEdison install photovoltaic solar panels on the roof of a Kohl's Department Store in Hillsborough, New Jersey. (Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)
Employees of SunEdison install photovoltaic solar panels on the roof of a Kohl's Department Store in Hillsborough, New Jersey. (Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, now running for the Democrat presidential nomination, supports legislation imposing a tax on carbon pollution.

The way he explained it at Tuesday night's CNN town hall, such a tax would combine a bit of wealth redistribution with green energy goals:

"Would you support a specific legislative proposal for a carbon tax and rebate?" a voter asked Buttigieg.

"I will," the candidate said.

Because I believe it would play a very important role in making sure that our economy and the prices in our economy accurately reflect the true cost of business as usual. Remember, the most costly thing we could possibly do is to stay on the path that we're on, and that's not just a moral cost, that's a dollars and cents cost, because the catastrophic effects of climate change, which we're already beginning to see, are only going to increase.

So the idea of a carbon tax and rebate, or a carbon fee and dividend, whatever you want to call it, is that we assess a fee on the price of carbon. But at least in my plan, we would rebate that right back out to the American people, and I do it on a progressive basis, so that most low- and middle-income people would be made more than whole.

This is not about taking money out of the economy. This is about making sure the economy accurately reflects the cost of carbon pollution and climate change. And that's part, but only part, of how we're going to meet these needs.

Now, you're right, there's been a lot of partisan resistance to doing the right thing, whether it's climate, whether it's protections for federal lands, for air and for water. But here's another example... where actually, there's a lot more agreement among the American people than there is on the floor in Congress. Right now, most Americans, including in conservative states, believe in protecting public lands, believe in making sure we have clean air and water.

Now there are some who have been made to feel like they’re part of the problem, if you're working in certain kinds of industry, for example. Ironically, those are some of the very people whose skills we will need to recruit in the next generation of those industries that have to be carbon-free. There's no question there will be a transition, and I'm proposing that we invest over $200 billion in supporting workers through that transition.

But we also estimate that we will create at least 3 million net new jobs by taking the action that we must as a country to mobilize and fight climate change. And some of these jobs are -- might sound a little new-fangled, high-tech green jobs. A lot of them are jobs that are perfectly easy to understand right now.

I'm talking about building trades, I'm talking about union carpenters and electrical workers and insulators and glaziers, (that) we're going to need just to get our buildings to where they will have to be retrofitted for us to stay ahead of the climate challenge. So we've got to break this idea that we're choosing between doing the right thing for our climate and doing the right thing for our economy.

The only way forward for our economy, for our future, for our children and for our climate is to step up, come together, deal with carbon pollution and lead the world in doing something about it.


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