Exxon Puts Up $1 Million to Campaign for a Carbon Tax

Rare donation to fight climate change represents a break with fellow oil giants—and with the Trump administration

Exxon Mobil Corp. is committing $1 million over two years to promote a tax on carbon emissions by corporations, one of the few times an oil company has given money to make fighting climate change a political priority in Washington.

Exxon sees a carbon tax as an alternative to patchwork regulations, putting one cost on all carbon emitters nationwide, eliminating regulatory uncertainty hovering over Exxon’s business in states that might seek to target oil companies, the person said.

.. Exxon’s contribution will go to Americans for Carbon Dividends, a new group co-chaired by former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott. It is promoting a carbon tax-plus-dividend policy first proposed by two former secretaries of state, James Baker III and George Shultz, last year. All three figures are Republicans.

The idea is to discourage companies from emitting carbon through the tax, but to avoid burdening consumers by returning the money to Americans through what the group calls a “carbon dividend” that it estimates could be as much as $2,000 annually per family.

On climate change issues, Exxon finds itself in unlikely opposition to many in the Republican Party, at a time the GOP holds the White House and majorities in Congress. Republican leaders there have often derided the idea of global warming and shown contempt for taxes as a solution.

While the Baker-Shultz plan is designed to be revenue-neutral by sending all of the money directly back to Americans, critics say it is too nuanced and complicated to be palatable.

.. “I don’t think the base would believe that, even if it were true,” said George David Banks, a former adviser to Mr. Trump on climate issues. “Not only are you asking the base to support climate policy, but you’re asking them to support a tax. You’re asking them to support a double whammy.”

General Motors Co. , Johnson & Johnson , and other oil companies, including BP PLC, are founding members of the Climate Leadership Council, the organization fine-tuning the details of the Baker-Shultz plan.

.. It pledged this year to cut its methane emissions 15% by 2020, it has touted its research to make fuels from algae and its chief executive

.. If big companies—especially fossil-fuel companies—make climate policy a lobbying priority, it could open the door to an eventual solution or compromise, though it may be years away and not include this plan or any carbon tax.

.. “This is an interesting and important signal shift. For years, Exxon’s political effort was all on the side of climate denial and obstruction,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.). “At least Exxon money is now on both sides of the fight.”

E-mails Show That Republican Senate Staff Stymied a Kavanaugh Accuser’s Effort to Give Testimony

Throughout Thursday’s Senate hearing on Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual-misconduct allegation against Brett Kavanaugh, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee claimed that they had tried in vain to secure more information about other accusations made about the judge. “We were moving heaven and earth and even moving the schedule to get to the truth,” Senator Thom Tillis, of North Carolina, said.

Senator Chuck Grassley, of Iowa, the chairman of the committee, said, about an allegation of sexual misconduct raised last week by a former college classmate of Kavanaugh’s, Deborah Ramirez, “My staff made eight requests—yes, eight requests—for evidence from attorneys for Ms. . . . Ms. Ramirez.” He added, “The committee can’t do an investigation if attorneys are stonewalling.”

.. On Wednesday, several conservative-media outlets published leaks of some of the e-mail correspondence between Ramirez’s team and Republican committee staffers, which appeared to back up Grassley’s characterization. But a fuller copy of the e-mail correspondence between Ramirez’s legal team and Republican and Democratic Senate staffers shows that a Republican aide declined to proceed with telephone calls and instead repeatedly demanded that Ramirez produce additional evidence in written form.

.. Clune proposed a phone call several times, Davis repeatedly insisted that Clune answer two questions: Did Ramirez possess evidence in addition to what was in the New Yorker article? And was she willing to provide testimony to the committee’s investigators?

.. “As you’re aware, Ms. Ramirez’s counsel have repeatedly requested to speak with the Committee, on a bipartisan basis, to determine how to proceed. You refused. I’ve never encountered an instance where the Committee has refused even to speak with an individual or counsel. I am perplexed as to why this is happening here, except that it seems designed to ensure that the Majority can falsely claim that Ms. Ramirez and her lawyers refused to cooperate. That simply is not true.”

.. “Almost immediately in our correspondence, they became less interested in hearing from her and more interested in discovering what witnesses we could bring forward. Since it was only the majority staff that made these demands, as the minority staff questioned those demands as unprecedented, we became suspicious that any disclosures we might file would be shared inappropriately with Judge Kavanaugh or others to prepare and attack Debbie’s account,”

.. Since Debbie’s interest was in an F.B.I. investigation where Judge Kavanaugh could be questioned under oath, we didn’t feel comfortable releasing this information without their assurances. We continued to attempt to negotiate in good faith by submitting a lengthier letter providing more information as well as Debbie’s request for investigation.

.. It is remarkable that the committee admits they had enough information to question Judge Kavanaugh under oath on Debbie’s statements in The New Yorker, yet that very same information was insufficient for Debbie’s counsel to earn even a phone call.”

.. “The imposition of aggressive and artificial deadlines regarding the date and conditions of any hearing has created tremendous and unwarranted anxiety and stress on Dr. Ford.”

.. “many aspects” of the terms under which she would testify “are fundamentally inconsistent with the Committee’s promise of a fair, impartial investigation into her allegations, and we are disappointed with the leaks and the bullying that have tainted the process.”

Man Up, Grassley. Question Blasey Ford Yourself.

Outsourcing this responsibility to female aides or an outside female lawyer because of bad optics is sexist and cowardly.

.. Dr. Blasey and her lawyers have pushed back, demanding that Mr. Grassley and his colleagues question her themselves. They are right to do so. The Republicans’ attempt to outsource the questioning of Dr. Blasey is cynical, sexist and cowardly.

.. Let’s start with the cynicism. Mr. Grassley said, “We reserve the option to have female staff attorneys, who are sensitive to the particulars of Dr. Blasey’s allegations and are experienced investigators, question both witnesses.” The chairman knows the optics are bad for him. Mr. Grassley and his 10 Republican colleagues on the judiciary committee are all white men. Their median age is about 60; Mr. Grassley and his colleague Orrin Hatch of Utah are in their mid-80s.

.. But the solution isn’t to remove men from the script. It’s to ask that they embody different characters: people who can pose respectful, probing questions, rather than bullies intent on shaming and demeaning the witness.

.. Many people think that’s impossible, which leads to the second point: The Republicans’ plan is sexist. Handing off the questioning of Dr. Blasey to female staff members would be a gross departure from Senate practice and based on the risible idea that the questioning of sexual assault survivors is “women’s work.”

.. I have written about the entrenched gender bias against female litigators. After a year of reporting, what stood out was a phenomenon of women being steered, often explicitly, into specialties where the cases turned on proving or disproving injuries to women’s genitals and reproductive organs.

.. Quite rightly, female Senate aides are “appalled” by the idea of having Dr. Blasey questioned in this fashion. “They always have to bring a woman in to save their bacon,” one told Britt Peterson

.. Which brings me to my final point. Cowardice.

Republican senators have no problem trying Dr. Blasey in the court of public opinion. Senator Hatch has already made up his mind: Judge Kavanaugh is telling the truth and Dr. Blasey is simply “mixed up.” Lindsey Graham, another Republican committee member, told The Washington Post, “I’ll listen to the lady,” then immediately implied the opposite. “We’re going to bring this to a close,” he said and called the accusation “a drive-by shooting.”

.. And yet, they are apparently too afraid to speak to her face to face. It is true that Dr. Blasey may prove to be a formidable opponent. She holds advanced degrees from Stanford and the University of Southern California, enjoys the respect of her colleagues and has had numerous people attest to her good character. But that’s no excuse for Republicans to shirk their responsibilities and turn tail.

Come on, gentlemen. Man up.

A Post-Trump World?

Yet what might happen should Trump be removed from office, either by impeachment leading to conviction or resignation or by federal indictment from Robert Mueller?

Given the evidence so far, the results could be civil chaos, and for a variety of reasons:

.. we have never threatened any president with impeachment primarily for purported wrongdoing before he took office... Had we done so, every president from Dwight Eisenhower (who avoided $400,000 in taxes by finagling a one-time government ruling to declare the huge royalties on his memoir as “capital gains” rather than income) to Barack Obama (who, well aside from Tony Rezko’s “gift,” faced campaign violations involving nearly $1.8 million in improper 2008 contributions that earned a $375,000 fine) would have faced non-stop legal hounding while in office. Harry Truman would have been impeached his first year, had a special prosecutor reviewed his long relationships of years past with the criminal syndicate run by Kansas City political boss Tom Pendergast. In 1963, a Mueller-like special counsel would still have been ferreting out all the election tampering during the 1960 election and its relationship to JFK.

.. none of which justifies the allegations that he has committed high crimes and misdemeanors while in office.

.. on social issues or religious agendas, they might find Pence more unpalatable — and yet far harder to defame.

.. Nonetheless, do not expect the Left to cease its hysteria should Trump disappear; it would simply recalibrate and refocus on Pence. The effort would be to repeat the Trump-demonization formula of trying to leverage some sort of legal infraction into a melodramatic felony to discredit an opposition president — perhaps in the manner the Left is now seeking to turn the upright Brett Kavanaugh into a veritable monster. Getting Trump would likely only whet the appetite to go after his successor.

.. The base not only has little allegiance to the Wall Street/Chamber of Commerce view of the world on trade, immigration, and manufacturing, but could either sit out or oppose any election that returns the party to the orthodox ideology of the recent past.

The Trump base will see a Trump removal as a Deep State/elite-bluestocking effort to nullify an election. With long memories, they will be far less likely to vote Republican at the national level. We should remember that conservatives have maligned Trump voters as much as has the Left, from “crazies” to what Eliot Cohen recently referred to as a “peasant revolt.”

.. The base not only has little allegiance to the Wall Street/Chamber of Commerce view of the world on trade, immigration, and manufacturing, but could either sit out or oppose any election that returns the party to the orthodox ideology of the recent past.

The Trump base will see a Trump removal as a Deep State/elite-bluestocking effort to nullify an election. With long memories, they will be far less likely to vote Republican at the national level. We should remember that conservatives have maligned Trump voters as much as has the Left, from “crazies” to what Eliot Cohen recently referred to as a “peasant revolt.”

.. A Trump abdication of some sort would alienate current Trump voters from the Republican party for a generation.