Kerry: Gas Tax? What Gas Tax?

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Here’s a fabulous sneak peek into the climate bill negotiations. Yesterday Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) attempted to squash the idea he and his colleagues have ever contemplated including a gas tax in the climate bill. “There is no gas tax, never was a gas tax, will not be a gas tax, I don’t know where that came from, but it is just wrong. Period,” he told reporters. “There is not even a linked fee, there is not a tax, there is nothing similar.”

Pretty sure the idea came from … the bill’s coauthors. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) discussed the prospect of a carbon fee on transportation fuels with reporters shortly before the April recess. “It’s on the table,” Lieberman said following a March 25 meeting with industry groups. And Graham explained that the oil industry favored a fuel fee if that would mean the industry wouldn’t be included under a hard cap on carbon.

It’s not entirely clear if what’s going on here is a rhetorical shift (nobody likes the word “tax” of course), or an actual policy change. This could be much like the whole “cap and trade is dead” dance the senators are performing, in which they declare the policy deceased while, in reality, some form of it will likely be included in their bill.

The senators are supposed to release a draft on Monday, but from everything I’m hearing on the Hill, there are still lots of loose ends to be tied up. Of course, the constant shifting has raised concerns about whether Kerry and his colleagues can deliver. As one industry source put it to Climate Wire last week:

“He’s literally trying to promise everything to everybody,” said one industry source close to the negotiations. “While his enthusiasm is appreciated, there’s grave doubts he can hold the promises he makes.”

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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