A recent Washington Post poll asked Americans how they would feel about cap and trade under some different cost scenarios. Turns out that if the monthly cost is $10, 56 percent support cap-and-trade and 42 percent opposed it. But when the cost is $25 per month, sentiment shifts to 44 percent in favor and 54 percent opposed. That’s pretty stingy of the American people. But Nate Silver drew a little chart which indicates that if the voters accurately understand the costs involved in the Waxman-Markey bill they ought to support it:
But of course “if the voters accurate understand” is a high bar to cross. And it doesn’t help when CNBC hosts Warren Buffett complaining about Waxman-Markey’s allegedly devastating impact on the poor. It’s true, of course, that Buffett is extremely wealthy and therefore deserves to be treated as an authoritative voice on all subjects. But the Congressional Budget Office, which actually did a detailed analysis of the distributive consequences of Waxman-Markey, concluded that the bill would have a positive impact on the poor even if you ignore the benefits of averting catastrophic climate change.
That said, Buffett is a lot richer and more famous than Doug Elmendorf, so I think it makes sense to pay more attention to his uninformed surmises than to the CBO’s analysis.