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A carbon tax, not a VAT

By Ezra Klein

I agree with Matt Yglesias on this: Every benefit you could name for a value-added tax also applies to a carbon tax. And a carbon tax also has the advantage of reducing carbon emissions and accelerating the development of renewable-energy technologies.

At this point, the politics of climate change are dismal. But the reality of the budget situation makes new taxes inevitable. Among the few promising routes left for climate hawks is convincing the political system that if we need more taxes, a carbon tax makes more sense than a VAT. Because we will need more taxes. Perhaps the fiscal crunch can do what climate science could not.

By Ezra Klein  | November 17, 2010; 10:48 AM ET
Categories:  Taxes  
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Comments

--*[T]he reality of the budget situation makes new taxes inevitable.*--

That's the eternal cry of the collectivist loon propagandist.

Posted by: msoja | November 17, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Are there 27 House Republicans and 7 Senate Republicans in the 112th Congress in favor of ANYTHING resembling ANY tax increase, no matter what it means for the deficit? If the answer is no, then I hate to say that this discussion is purely academic for at least 2 more years.

Posted by: vvf2 | November 17, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

--*the politics of climate change*--

Yes, things are so dire that... I want to fly to Spain for dinner!

Posted by: msoja | November 17, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

The BIG fallacy is that we don't have enough revenue with the taxes we already have. We have plenty of revenue.

We have a spending problem. Every elected official should meet Dave Ramsey before assuming office.

Posted by: WrongfulDeath | November 17, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Let's make transportation and heating and cooling more expensive for all the little people! Yay!

Posted by: msoja | November 17, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

So, yesterday Klein says he felt "guilty" for occupying a seat at an exclusive restaurant that someone else could have occupied, and today he feels no compunction in wanting to price millions of people out of transportation, heating, cooling and eating choices.

It boggles.

Posted by: msoja | November 17, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Wow, I mean, I expected to find msoja's usual nonsense in this thread, but four inane posts really is impressive.

Posted by: MosBen | November 17, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

MosBen, could you be more specific and highlight the nonsense you contend I've uttered?

Posted by: msoja | November 17, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

A VAT will never happen or a carbon tax for that matter. Keep dreaming though.

Posted by: obrier2 | November 17, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Well, retorting to brief excerpts from a post with personal attacks and failing to engage in the substance of either the post itself or the underlying argument is a good enough place to start.

Posted by: MosBen | November 17, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

--*the substance of either the post itself or the underlying argument*--

There is no substance or argument from Klein. There is only the advocating for ever more and higher taxes flowing to an ever growing and controlling government. His only justification in the above instance is that the government has spent and continues to spend so much that it's going to need to steal more money or it's going to go bankrupt. That's not an argument, it's an observation, but only in a dim propagandist's mind does the observation automatically turn to a call for higher taxes.

Juxtapose Klein's call for higher costs across the country for millions with his feeling "guilty" for occupying a seat at a restaurant that one of his fellow elites might have occupied instead and you're looking at a microcosm of the elite snobbery ruining this country.

Posted by: msoja | November 17, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

A carbon tax is essentially dead in the next legislative session and likely the following one. But the name "climate hawks" is alive and well! I've seen it popping up all over the blogosphere and other corners of the internet. Hopefully it keeps being used until it firmly takes root.

Posted by: orteleus | November 17, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

No way to a carbon tax unless the liberals are willing to make the 'poor' pay their fair share for their carbon usage.

Posted by: krazen1211 | November 17, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I'd be willing to trade a carbon tax in exchange for repealing all the Federal mandates about how much water your toilet can flush and what kind of light bulbs you can buy.

Posted by: jnc4p | November 17, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

A carbon tax would have to be astoundingly large to raise anything like the revenue a VAT would raise. The base is just too narrow relative to a universal VAT. A carbon tax could be supplementary to a VAT or an improving adjustment to a VAT but replace a VAT, no.

Posted by: bdell555 | November 17, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Back from gorging on a 400 dollar a person meal, you are already advocating the confiscation of other people's money and the downscaling of their lifestyles as they turn over the money they might spend on luxuries to the administration. Beyond parody.

Posted by: truck1 | November 17, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

msoja, "There is no substance or argument from Klein." Well, you could hardly have proved my point any better. There are posts here where you could argue that there's no argument or no substance, but the vast majority of those posts are the lunch breaks, posts about TV shows, or posts that are essentially either just a link or a quote from someone else's post.

But Ezra's clearly making an argument here, and it's clearly based on arguments that he's made in other posts since you've been around. Your failing to even acknowledge an argument being posed by people with whom you disagree makes the vast majority of your posts, as I've mentioned, mostly nonsense.

Posted by: MosBen | November 17, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

"And a carbon tax also has the advantage of reducing carbon emissions and accelerating the development of renewable-energy technologies.

At this point, the politics of climate change are dismal. But the reality of the budget situation makes new taxes inevitable. Among the few promising routes left for climate hawks is convincing the political system that if we need more taxes, a carbon tax makes more sense than a VAT"

So let me see if I have you straight. In a time of 10% unemployment, you want to tax the 90+% of the economy which is carbon based, so you can promote growth in the -10% of the economy which is renewable, (which is LAYING OFF employees, not growing), and which is completely dominated by the Chinese!

RIGHT.

Ezra, I'm sorry, you just know very little about your subject matter.


Posted by: 54465446 | November 17, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

--*Ezra's clearly making an argument here*--

No, Klein has made a series of assertions, but I don't see anything that could be called an argument.

Does he consider that any solution to runaway government spending other than raising taxes? No, he just asserts that taxes will have to be raised.

Klein implies that "climate change" is a dire challenge which must be met with government action, but I've never seen him build supporting arguments. All he's ever done is assume the conclusion that suits his predilection to see a bigger, more powerful government.

Asserting that something is true is not the same as presenting arguments to establish the truth. Klein offers very little in the way of substantive arguments, but then, he appears to know very little about how the world works, and that's why he gibbers about "policy" day in and day out. It's exactly like fancying oneself a great football player based on one's own incessant Monday morning quarterbacking without ever having played any football.

Posted by: msoja | November 17, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

EASY climate change and JOB CREATION solution: Eliminate federal income taxes on the poor/middle classes and replace with a carbon tariff who's fees flow directly into LOCAL, MUNICIPAL renewable energy projects (wind, geothermal exchange, tidal, solar, no ethanol). The only Federal programs in danger of cuts are war games and bloated corporate subsidies, and in ten years ENERGY WILL BE CLEAN AND DIRT CHEAP.

Posted by: CitizenPlusPlus | November 17, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

The 5 easy steps to being green, creating local jobs, and mitigating the worst effects of climate change and peak oil.

1) Stop population groWtHH & SprawL!!!
2) VeganLife!! / FoodForest / VirginForest!
3) R.R.Recycle!
4) Wind! / GeoThermal Exchange!! / Tidal / Solar
5) Electric &OpenSource: Trains!! / Cars / Media!

www.350.org/about/science
www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=1989
www.storyofstuff.com
www.peta.org/vsk

Posted by: CitizenPlusPlus | November 17, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

A Carbon Tax is only effective helping the environment if it encourages people to use less fossil fuels(or products that require fossil fuels). This means that the more effective a Carbon Tax becomes at helping the environment, the less effective a Carbon Tax becomes at raising revenue.

In other words, a Carbon Tax is (hopefully) only a short-term revenue solution. Ideally, we would want to phase in a VAT to compensate for declining CT revenues.

Posted by: zosima | November 17, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

citizenplus:

You don't actually believe that do you?

"The only Federal programs in danger of cuts are war games and bloated corporate subsidies, and in ten years ENERGY WILL BE CLEAN AND DIRT CHEAP.'

Renewable energy, depending on how you define it provides no more than 10% of our energy today. Furthermore, the market is controlled in most areas by China. What you have said is a nice slogan, like "Go Team" but is not in any way a real solution to any current problem.

Posted by: 54465446 | November 17, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

54465446, Ezra's not arguing, at least not in this post or any post I can recall, that a carbon tax needs to be put in place immediately, that it can't be phased in. In other posts I seem to recall Ezra arguing that carbon taxes could be put in place in exchange for reductions of other taxes.

This post, however, is about long-term debt problems, and the argument is that we'll eventually need new revenue to address the long term debt issue. I assume that, as Ezra has argued in the past, he would also include spending cuts with that, but those are not the topic of this discussion.

Posted by: MosBen | November 17, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

msoja, not every blog post is an entire argument on every point. Here, I'll sum up Ezra's post for you, including information from previous discussions:

This country has a long-term debt problem. If we don't resolve the debt issue the country will go bankrupt. Historically, there is not much, if any, real support for broad cuts in social programs from either the Right or the Left, because every program has a fan. Some programs can be cut, and some can be reformed to be more efficient, but it is very unlikely that the deficit will be resolved through cuts along, therefore at some point we'll need more revenue, which probably means a new tax rather than expanding existing taxes.

Rather than jumping on every thread and dropping conservative catch phrases with an ad hominem twist, you could actually try to respond with a cogent argument.

Otherwise, you're just posting nonsense.

Posted by: MosBen | November 17, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

mosben:

Thanks for the reply. Isn't a carbon tax in a 90% carbon economy a tax on every part of the economy? Furthermore isn't it regressive in nature since the poorest people are the LEAST likely to be able to switch to newer non-carbon energy sources like new cars, new forms of heating and cooling?

Aren't they also the least likely to benefit from the supposed green jobs this would assist? Anytime you are talking about manufacturing jobs, the Asian countries have us beat all to hell. Today it's China as yesterday it was Japan, and tomorrow it will be a different country like Vietnam. Still we have no advantage save transportation cost over these countries.

So my question is still regardless of the time frame, how do we "win" with a carbon tax?

Posted by: 54465446 | November 17, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

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