Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Uses and Misuses of a Carbon Tax

Thomas Friedman writes in the New York Times about how a carbon tax could be used to help balance the Federal budget. Part of what attracts him is the idea that the revenues from a carbon tax could be used, partly, to reduce income tax rates and thereby gain Republican support. But I suspect Friedman is wrong about both the politics and the tax policy of this issue.

He's wrong about the politics because the Republican base, enraged and inspired by various institutes and organizations controlled by the Kochs and their running dogs, will never accept a carbon tax. The Tea Party believes that global warming is a liberal conspiracy, intended to cripple the American economy and thus somehow usher in Shariah Law, and the Tea Party will never accept any Republican motion in this direction. The ideological rigidity that makes it impossible for the Republicans to contemplate a tax increase of any size will double down to prevent a carbon tax from being passed. A carbon tax is not the ticket to a grand unified budget bargain for the exact same reason that we have a budget impasse in the first place: fanatical Republican intransigence.