Obama’s carbon tax plans
Megan McArldle doubts the political viability of battling climate change with carbon taxation:
The Democrats right now are divided into deficit hawks, who think that the nearly $1 trillion deficit headed down the pike means they can’t afford any big programs, and the big spenders, who say to hell with the deficit, let’s spend as much as we can to make it look like we’re really doing something. More on this later. But one wrinkle that hadn’t seemed as important as it now does is that the Democrats do not have the luxury of proposing unpassable legislation in order to look like they’re doing something. They can’t make good on Obama’s electoral promises about global warming by putting up a program the Republicans hate enough to take down, because there aren’t enough Republicans to credibly blame for the bill’s destruction. So they either have to actually pass a carbon bill that will be massively unpopular when it raises energy prices, or explain why Obama didn’t really mean it.
If the Democrats are smart, they’ll pass a carbon bill that will only gradually raise energy prices, and that won’t really kick in in a serious way for another 5-7 years. Modest rises in energy prices in the short term will not prove to be “massively unpopular” and more substantive increases — while no doubt not exactly something the public will love — will be tolerated if the economy as a whole is once again growing briskly, and median income is once again increasing, and people see real progress in developing the kind of infrastructure that helps them deal with said higher energy prices.