Green Tax Shift in Denmark

On the Wikipedia page for Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, who currently leads a center-right (by Danish standards) coalition, I read the following about his time as Finance Minister before Anders Fogh Rasmussen stepped down as PM to be the top civilian official in NATO:

In February 2009, Lars Løkke Rasmussen was the chief negotiator in the political agreement behind a major tax reform, implementing the government’s ambition of reducing income tax and increasing taxes on pollution. The reform was, according to Lars Løkke Rasmussen, the biggest reduction of the marginal tax rate since the introduction of the income tax in 1903. The opposition accused it of being historically skewed in favouring those with high-income jobs and giving very little to those with low-income jobs.

You can read Google’s translation of Danish newspaper articles about this here and here. Relative to the tax agenda pursued by George W. Bush, Rasmussen’s approach:

1. Achieves the U.S. right-wing’s core policy objective of reducing taxes on rich people.2. Also contributes to solving a bona fide public policy problem.3. Does a much better job relative to the budget deficit, an issue the U.S. right-wing at least claims to care about.4. Would have screwed around with the Democratic Party’s political coalition by attracting support from green groups and from upscale liberal voters.


That seems like a lot to like had a more serious, thoughtful, and courageous group of people been in power. Obviously the interest-group politics is totally different in Denmark where there are substantial industries around wind power and efficiency and basically no fossil fuel production. They use coal and oil, in other words, but don’t produce much of any so there’s not the same kind of pro-pollution constituency. That accounts for part of the difference. But much of the rest of the difference seems like a lack of imagination combined with a lack of good sense and a lack of morality.