The right argument for a carbon tax, made to the right people
I acknowledge that my arguments in favor of a carbon tax over cap-and-trade are made easier in that I am comparing my ideal hypothetical carbon tax to the actual cap-and- trade programs either passed by the House or proposed in the Senate. Indeed, a cap-and-trade program that included a safety valve and that auctioned allowances would achieve many of the economic advantages of a carbon tax.
The most frequent criticism of a carbon tax is that it would be politically unpopular. But to quote Milton Friedman, I think my role is to “prescribe what should be done in light of what can be done, politics aside, and not to predict what is ‘politically feasible’ and then to recommend it.” You, of course, have the more difficult task of determining what is politically feasible. But given the magnitudes of the costs and benefits associated with any climate policy, I recommend to you a careful consideration of the merits of a carbon tax.
That's Brookings' Ted Gayer testifying before Congress on the merits of a carbon tax. Gayer is having this argument with the right people: Legislators who might not support a carbon tax, but should. Right now, a compromised cap-and-trade plan is more politically feasible, but that would of course change if congressmen stopped being terrible about this and threw in behind the policy that makes the most sense. Full testimony here.
(Via Andrew Sullivan.)
December 8, 2009; 3:37 PM ET
Categories: Climate Change
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