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.