As deficit talks formally get underway today, the White House has pulled the controversial idea of a carbon tax off the table, removing an issue that was sure to evoke strong protests from Republicans.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney Thursday suggested President Obama’s decision not to try to use a carbon tax to reduce the deficit and combat global warming is permanent.
“We would never propose a carbon tax, and have no intention of proposing one,” Carney told reporters traveling with Obama aboard Air Force One to New York.
A carbon tax could be assessed on fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas that many believe contribute to global warming. There had been talk in recent days that Obama might levy a carbon tax to help reduce the deficit.
At his press conference Wednesday, Obama noted that there is no consensus on enacting a carbon tax and suggested said fixing the economy would take precedence over addressing climate change:
I don’t know what either Democrats or Republicans are prepared to do at this point, because this is one of those issues that’s not just a partisan issue; I also think there are regional differences.
There’s no doubt that for us to take on climate change in a serious way would involve making some tough political choices. And understandably, I think the American people right now have been so focused, and will continue to be focused on our economy and jobs and growth, that if the message is somehow we’re going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don’t think anybody is going to go for that. I won’t go for that.
Obama said instead that any effort to tackle climate change would come only after “a wide-ranging conversation with scientists, engineers, and elected officials,” which is Washington-speak for saying he doesn’t plan to seriously address the issue this year.