A top Senate Democrat predicted Tuesday that a carbon tax could gain political cachet in budget negotiations with Republicans if Hillary Clinton wins the White House.
Right now the idea has virtually no political traction in Congress. But Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, who will be the top Democrat when Harry Reid retires after 2016, explained how that could change:
"If Hillary wins and we take back the Senate, I believe many of our Republican friends will say, 'Well, OK, we have been starving the government for revenues, we need revenues.' But many of them will not be for raising rates. That's sort of a credo—not just of the hard-right Republicans, but of the mainstream Republicans. So they are going to say, 'Put in a VAT,'" Schumer said, referring to a value-added tax.
Schumer, speaking at an environmental event on Capitol Hill, continued: "And Democrats will say, 'We won't be for a VAT. That's regressive.' But there's one sort of VAT that Democrats might be for, and that's a carbon tax. So you might get a compromise along those lines."
Schumer spoke at Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse's annual Rhode Island Energy and Environmental Leaders Day.
Whitehouse, an outspoken advocate of aggressive climate policies, this month floated a bill with Hawaii Democrat Brian Schatz to impose carbon taxes on coal production, petroleum products from refineries and terminals, and natural gas.