Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Carbon Tax "Vastly Superior" to Cap and Trade

Economist Gary Hufbauer testified to the Senate Finance Committee this morning:
"Climate change is a serious problem that must be addressed by the United States and other countries. To reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, a carbon tax system would be vastly superior to a cap-and-trade permit system. Carbon taxes would be more transparent, more uniform across all GHG sources, raise more revenue, easier to administer, and more readily adjusted at the border. The Waxman-Markey draft legislation illustrates the enormous complexity, opacity, and rent-seeking inherent in a permit system."
If, like me, you think global scorching could become a plague of biblical proportions, it's pretty important to get the policy right. And even if you're not that concerned about the climate crisis, you might like the idea of tax reform: reducing taxes on our pay, encouraging employment while replacing the revenue with taxes on global warming pollution, discouraging energy waste and encouraging renewable energy. Unlike the 946-page Waxman-Markey bill, most people can understand that.

Why isn't Congress going for a revenue-neutral carbon tax? They seem to think we're too brow-beaten to understand that cap/trade is a hidden, volatile and regressive tax, and they're afraid we won't accept an explicit, predictable, progressive tax shift, just because it's called a "tax."

I won't be shedding any tears when the Waxman-Markey bill goes down in flames, either on the House floor or in the Senate. Then, maybe we can have a mature discussion about what Dr. Hufbauer was describing-- a system that actually works and that would lead other countries to follow.

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