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A team of Republican former high-ranking government officials is pitching the GOP on a carbon tax.

The group, which includes people such as former Secretary of State James Baker, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulsen and former Secretary of State George Schultz, rolled out their plan Wednesday and are meeting with Trump White House officials on the proposal.

They’re pitching the idea as a “repeal and replace” plan, like what the GOP is attempting to do with ObamaCare.

{mosads}The group of establishment Republicans, which calls itself the Climate Leadership Council, is urging President Trump and Congress to institute a carbon tax and simultaneously remove nearly all of former President Barack Obama’s climate change regulations, such as the Clean Power Plan.

Trump and the GOP plan to repeal those regulations anyway, though they do not intend to replace them with other climate policies.

The proposal got an early boost from former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who called it a “Thought-provoking plan from highly respected conservatives to both strengthen the economy & confront climate risks” on Twitter.

But while a carbon tax has long gotten strong support from economists and Democrats, it has rarely gotten very far among Republican policymakers.

Trump made it clear on the campaign trail that he never intends to support a carbon tax. And House Republicans last year passed a non-binding resolution to denounce the idea.

Nonetheless, the group of elder GOP statesmen think that their policy arguments can get traction. 

“For too long, we Republicans and conservatives haven’t occupied a real place at the table during the debate about global climate change,” Baker, who led State under former President George H.W. Bush, told reporters Wednesday at an event with other leaders in the group.

“Instead, we intended to dispute the fact of climate change, and particularly, the extent to which man is responsible for any changes in the Earth’s climate.”

He framed a carbon tax as an “insurance policy” that even climate skeptics can get behind.

“And if we can get an insurance policy that is a conservative approach, based on the free market, that limits government, doesn’t expand government and that is competitive internationally, that’s a win-win, and we ought to take a look at it.”

Martin Feldstein, a top economic adviser to former President Ronald Reagan, said a key piece of the proposal is to give the tax revenue back to Americans as “dividends.”

“The practical problem with implementing a carbon tax is and has been political. No one wants to pay an extra tax,” he said.

“But combining that tax with a carbon dividend, which is the unique and most important feature of this proposal … means that most — indeed about two-thirds of American households, according to a study done by the staff of the Treasury — will receive more in carbon dividends than they pay indirectly in carbon taxes.”

Still, the members of the group know the odds are against them.

“We don’t have any preconceived notion about where they may come down on this,” Baker said of the White House and Congress. “We know we have an uphill slog to get Republicans interested in this.”

Tags Barack Obama Carbon tax Climate change

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