Tom Friedman, George Will Agree: Carbon Tax Good

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Um, kinda. Anyway, this is fun – today’s Detroit News has a pair of op-eds from the center-left and center-right both saying something very similar – that if you want to people to use less energy, the honest, transparent way to do it is through a carbon tax.

 

George Will makes the point in the process of bashing the dishonest, non-transparent jackpot for rent seekers, central planners and power-grabbing pols called “carbon cap and trade.”

 

Thomas Friedman makes the point in the process of saying that $4 gas is the one thing that has finally caused Americans to start changing their energy-using behavior. Naturally, being a leftie he’s a bit sneakier and less forthright in his recommendation, but it amounts to the same thing – a tax designed to keep the cost of fuel above $4 (except he doesn’t call it a tax). He almost gets it right by advocating an offsetting reduction in payroll taxes, but his purpose is not to make the tax revenue neutral (which he should advocate), but to use the revenue to ease the burden on the working classes (which is OK, but not without revenue neutrality). 

 

Here’s what’s interesting about these two columns from either side of the political center: If the goal is to reduce fossil fuel use (setting aside for now whether that’s a rational policy), a carbon tax is the honest, transparent, non-economically destructive way to do it, with one minor condition: The revenue it takes in be offset dollar-for-dollar by reductions in marginal income tax rates. (Tom Friedman and liberals would no doubt prefer that the offset come from payroll taxes. That’s OK – lets make a deal.)

 

I will flesh out the details of this idea in a subsequent post.

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