Carbon Taxes

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"Carbon Taxes"

Via Plumer and Beaudrot along comes Chris Dodd with the first carbon tax proposal of the presidential campaign.

Every once in a while I wonder why you don’t see a constant, dogmatic drumbeat of enthusiasm for carbon taxes from conservative pundits. You’d say, “we should have a carbon tax and offset it with reductions in income taxes” and split yuppie liberal types who worry about global warming from more traditional populist types. What’s more, since to be effective a carbon tax would need to succeed in reducing carbon emissions you’d also set the federal government on a glide path to reduced revenues. It’s great. But you almost never see people beating this drum.

I can imagine a few explanations. One is that most conservative pundits have allowed that portion of the brain that one uses to analyze a substantive question of national policy to atrophy to the extent that they don’t understand why this is something that conservatives should like. Another is corruption; this proposal would be bad interest group politics and the energy companies are major financiers of the right. A third is hackishness; this proposal would put you in disagreement with George W. Bush and other Republican Party politicians. Last is the politics of resentment; conservative pundits just hate environmentalists too much to see the forest for the trees. Some combination of factors may be at work. And it’s worth saying that several of your better conservative pundits — Andrew Sullivan and David Brooks come to mind — are on the bandwagon.

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