Stephanopoulos Advocates 'Kind of Energy Tax You See in Europe'

ABC's George Stephanopoulos has shown that he's bi-partisan when it comes to advocating tax hikes. Before the election, he lectured Republican Senate candidate Stephen Laffey: "If the deficit continued to grow, it's not responsible to say you're never going to raise taxes." On Sunday, he pushed Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, a Democratic candidate for President, to call for higher taxes on energy. Stephanopoulos contended that "just about every expert on energy says the best way to become energy independent is to raise the price of oil and gas, to have a serious energy tax. Why not call for it?" Stephanopoulos followed up by pointing to Europe as a model to emulate: "Couldn't we become independent much more quickly if we had the kind of energy tax you see in Europe?"

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A September 3 NewsBusters item recounted Stephanopoulos' Labor Day weekend trip to the Ocean State:

In an "On the Trail" segment from Rhode Island on Sunday's This Week, ABC's George Stephanopoulos lectured Stephen Laffey, the Republican primary challenger to incumbent Senator Lincoln Chafee, about taking a pledge to not raise federal income taxes: "If the deficit continued to grow, it's not responsible to say you're never going to raise taxes." When Laffey pointed out how Ronald Reagan's tax cuts "worked very well," Stephanopoulos retorted: "Ronald Reagan also increased taxes." After Laffey touted the benefits of the Bush tax cuts, an exasperated Stephanopoulos resignedly concluded: "So it's 'read my lips,' you're never going to vote to raise taxes?"

For the interview aired on the December 3 This Week, Stephanopoulos traveled to Concord, New Hampshire. The exchange about energy policy:
George Stephanopoulos: "You also have said that we have to have bold ideas for energy independence and your theme is 'courage to change.' Just about every expert on energy says the best way to become energy independent is to raise the price of oil and gas, to have a serious energy tax. Why not call for it?"

Tom Vilsack: "Well, let me suggest that I'm not quite sure all of the experts necessarily agree with that. I think that there are three issues here. The first issue is Americans have to be encouraged to conserve more. And to do it in ways that will not necessarily disrupt the basic standard of living. We as a national government need to sit down with the auto industry and unions to figure out ways in which we can be best in class in mileage standards, not worst in class. There's no reason why we can't advance mileage standards in this country. We need to take a look at renewable fuels, and we need to basically create opportunities for the market to allow this industry to grow rapidly as we did in Iowa."

Stephanopoulos: "All valuable, but couldn't we become independent much more quickly if we had the kind of energy tax you see in Europe?"

Vilsack: "Not necessarily. Not necessarily because people will end up making decisions to take other parts of their disposable income or discretionary income and shift it as they did when gas was at $3. There was a lot of griping about it but people still used their vehicles, so you have to recognize the reality of America today. There need to be new transportation systems. There needs to be urban planning and new materials used for airplanes and the like, but we need to motivate the economy to create these new opportunities and we're not doing that right now. We're just sort of -- we're just sort of continuing the status quo. We're locked and the reason we're locked is because we have an administration that is encouraging us to be fearful, to think about today, not to think about tomorrow..."
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center