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Why is it so surprising that the political left has been actively fighting the passage of I-732?
For those unfamiliar with the initiative and the totally bizarre politics relating to it, I-732 is a proposed neutral carbon tax in Washington State. This proposal would institute a tax of $25 per metric ton of CO2 on fossil fuels consumed. Proceeds would be used to reduce the state sales tax and eliminate B&O taxes for manufacturers. Remaining funds would be distributed to low income households (those who are most impacted by increasing energy costs). By lowering the sales tax rate and redistributing tax proceeds to low earning families, the regressive economics of Washington’s zero income tax policy would greatly improve. Washington would be instituting the most progressive greenhouse gas legislation in the United States.
It may be surprising that Washington’s left worked against the passage of I-732. The state’s governor, Jay Inslee, and a handful of environmental and labor groups didn’t agree with the proposed use of the initiative’s tax proceeds. They wanted to use the additional tax revenues to grow government, increase investments in environmental programs, and most recently, use proceeds to cover the education budget gap.
I have been asking myself: why does it seem so strange that this initiative’s opposition is coming from the political left? With further analysis, the answer to this question is totally obvious.
I-732 is an absolutely terrible proposal. This initiative would pour cold water on the income tax debate while simultaneously reducing CO2 emissions…all without expanding our State budget and creating an additional tax burden for Washington’s residents. In government speak; the proposal would be an absolute catastrophe! Two massive tax revenue opportunities wasted by a single initiative that actually solves the problems Washington’s residents feel are important. I-732 has the potential to be so destructive that it might actually gain the support of the totally ignorant political right. Take a step back and let the gravity of that potentiality sink in… Scary thought… The conservative minority actually agreeing with legislation in a state in which they too are residents.
I don’t know about you, but I feel like we really dodged a bullet on this one. Fortunately for all of us, the political leaders in this state saw I-732 for what it really was: an opportunity to solve a few problems without feeding the self-interest monster. We can all sleep well at night knowing that future versions of this initiative will attempt to keep the monster sated. At least… until it gets hungry again.