The GOP Triangulates : Is a carbon tax in America’s future? (Timothy Noah, Nov. 9, 2006, Slate)

Two days after the election, a movement is afoot to achieve an audacious Democratic goal. The weird part is that the people behind it are Republicans.

In a Nov. 9 Wall Street Journal op-ed, former Bush speechwriter David Frum suggested that President Bush propose a carbon tax. N. Gregory Mankiw, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Bush White House, suggested the same thing in an Oct. 20 op-ed in the Journal, and former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan talked it up in late September. Harvard’s Martin Feldstein and Weekly Standard contributing editor Irwin Stelzer like the idea, too. Slate “Moneybox” columnist Dan Gross took note of this unexpected GOP trend in an Oct. 8 New York Times column (“Raise the Gasoline Tax? Funny, It Doesn’t Sound Republican”).

On a purely theoretical level, it’s not at all inconsistent for a Republican to advocate a carbon tax. Conservatives prefer taxing transactions to taxing income because it’s a way to avoid progressivity; rich and poor get taxed at the same rate.

It’s all about taxing consumption rather than income and, as the congressional GOP discovered in the Clinton years, presidents get the credit for what happens on their watch.



  1. AWW says:

    A tax on carbons offset by tax cuts elsewhere (personal taxes,
    corporate tax rate, finish off the estate tax) makes a lot of
    sense. Unfortunately there is a large part of the GOP that
    doesn’t like raising taxes on anything, not understanding the
    switch in what is being taxed.

  2. Orrin says:

    The beauty is you don’t need the GOP for it.

  3. Lou Gots says:

    Actually it’s quite regressive. The rich will just start driving electrics and the like. Faifr Tax is a much better idea. In practice, tax reform is just one more of the things the CINO’s–conservatives in name only–have thrown away in the last election.

  4. Orrin says:

    Yes, forcing a conversion away from gasoline is one of the main benefits.

  5. Lou Gots says:

    Reap my lips: Rich people can afford to switch technologies; poor people are stuck driving old cars for twenty-five years. Regressive, built on the backs of the poor. This is even before we begin to consider tax preaks and subsudies for the new technologies.

  6. Orrin says:

    It’s America–even the poor are rich. Everyone will switch rather easily if you force them via taxes.

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