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How Much Would You Pay to Save the World?

I've mostly talked about the portions of The Washington Post/ABC poll that dealt with health care. But the cap-and-trade segment is interesting too. First, let me pour a cup of salt on this post: I doubt that 10 percent of Americans could offer a coherent description of a cap-and-trade program. And you can't trust poll results on a policy that people don't understand.

But the numbers do give you an idea of where reformers begin. An encouraging 62 percent think the government should regulate greenhouse gases even if it "raised the prices of things you buy." But when you make the language more complicated and give a capsule description of cap-and-trade, that number falls to 52 percent. Not a precipitous drop, but an interesting suggestion that people don't trust what they don't understand. And then, of course, you get into the question of how large a price increase people will tolerate. I've graphed this bit:


If cap-and-trade will cost $10 a month, in other words, it receives majority support. Boost that to $25 and opinions flip. Which suggests that Americans aren't particularly convinced that this is a high-stakes endeavor. I imagine people aren't quite that price sensitive when they think they're saving the world.

By Ezra Klein  |  June 25, 2009; 11:31 AM ET
Categories:  Climate Change , Polls  
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Next: Who's in the Room for Health Care?


I'm still confused why the Democrats favor Waxman-Markey over a straightforward carbon tax. Is the reason to confuse the public?

Posted by: Dellis2 | June 25, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

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