How Republicans should win the climate fight

Republicans have fought cap and trade wrong, and they're going to lose because of it.  If the bill passes, they've lost a policy fight; if the bill fails, Republicans will not get credit for lower prices, but they will be blamed (fairly or not) for obstructing progress on environmental problems.

Let's stipulate a few political realities: (a) the public generally agrees that something must be done about climate change, (b) cap-and-trade is expensive, complicated, inefficient, unpopular, subject to industry gaming and political manipulation, (c) cap and trade is widely regarded (including by environmentalists) as inferior to a carbon tax, but (d) Democrats are pushing for cap and trade anyway, because it is "politically possible."

What should Republicans do instead?  Propose a carbon tax. 

But, instead of a straight tax increase (as Democrats want), Republican should propose a carbon tax that replaces the payroll tax.   That is revenue neutral, meaning there is no total tax increase.

There are many reasons this works.

  • Environment: Republicans would be offering the most pro-environment solution to climate change. 
  • Cost: A Carbon-for-Payroll tax would address the climate change problem without imposing any additional tax on Americans (unlike cap and trade).
  • Externalities: The payroll tax disincentivizes positive externalities - labor and employment.  The carbon tax disincentives negative externalities - congestion, pollution, greenhouse gas emissions/climate change, dependence on foreign oil, money sent to tyrants and enemies, foreign debt, the trade deficit, price volatility.
  • Tangibility: A carbon tax is a consumption tax (e.g., a gas tax), which consumers feel in a tangible way and can adjust behavior to optimize their exposure to the tax. Payroll taxes is money they never see, so the cost is much less noticed.  The more sensitive the public is to the price they're paying for government, the more rational they will be about government spending.

Finally, the key: The idea of swapping the payroll tax for a carbon tax was proposed by....Al Gore.  So you've got a coalition composed of environmentalists, foreign policy hawks, the Chamber of Commerce (and businesses in general), Exxon, the auto industry and Republicans who want to stop higher taxes.

Republicans should be offering The Al Gore Amendment to every piece of energy/environment legislation in sight.  And if Democrats oppose it, then the burder is on Democrats to explain why they refuse to support the most pro-environment and pro-economic growth proposal to address climate change.

That's good policy and good politics.

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Good Idea actually.

Good idea actually.  At this rate, though, the Republicans will start proposing good faith solutions to real problems (or in this case recycling old liberal ones) about 2 to 3 years after the Democrats already passed something and have moved on.

I'm expecting the actually useful, good faith suggestions from Republicans on health care about 2013 or so.

Externality Taxes are not "Progressive"

 Cute comment. But the very idea of externality taxes comes from sources no one could credibly consider "progressive."

The notion of external social costs starts with Pigou. But taxation of externalities as well as cap and trade was developed further in 1960 by Nobel Laureate Ronald Coase (not left), gets further developed by Buchanan and Tullock (not left) and Bruce Yandle (not left) -- and find it's way to the present being co-opted by leftwing politicians who're trying to bankroll their retarded policies and debt -- oh and grease the palms of special interests who will keep them in office.

Not that this particular idea (carbon taxes) is all that good from either a climate or economic perspective, the intellectual legacy is right wing. (Sorry, progressives don't really have ideas. Unless take resources from A to give to B is an "idea.") 

Legacies are less than relevant

The parties are defined by their present stances more than their intellectual legacies.

The "danger" in this proposal is that it might get accepted!

That said, the primary argument for cap and trade relative to carbon tax IS a political argument, so it's a very good point!

Wonderful to see that the

Wonderful to see that the best conservative minds have caught up to the Clinton WH where a BTU tax originated.  But carbon taxes would be terribly regressive (the Bentley that my Aunt drives doesn't use much more hydrocarbon energy than my Mustang).  Which makes a straight-up tax on CO2 emissions a no-brainer NO vote for most sentient beings.  The cap & trade advantage is that it allows businesses to arrange the pace of their adjustments to a carbon-sensitive world in a way that will suit their individual business plan.  Gosh!! The socialism of this WH!!!  

re:

Payroll taxes are also regressive.  Consumption taxes distribute the cost/benefit analysis more effectively across consumers, and they apply to products regardless of country of origin.

I'm not sure with how this

I'm not sure with how this squares with the pressure that centrist Democrats are taking on the House vote.  This morning The Hill, I believe, has an article with a quote basically stating that Blue Dogs don't want to take a similar vote on health care as they had to on C&T because of the heat they took after ramming it through.  It mentioned that Republican claims that they passed an "energy tax" were at least somewhat effective. 

Now, you may favor a revenue neutral carbon tax, but I think your general thesis that Republicans losing ground for "obstructing" environmental progress is questionable when you observe the general reaction to the passage of C&T, as reflected in Blue Dog opposition to health care. 

A tax by any other name...

That's what C&T is, or carbon tax, or whatever you call it.  Public understanding of this issue is rapidly increasing and maturing, and guess what?  People see that climate change is basically hokum.  Spend umpteen trillion dollars to reduce atmospheric temperature by a fraction of a degree Celsius by 2020?  Or less than that, given China and India's plans?  And, by the way, no new nuclear plants?  Or expanded domestic drilling?

This is no time for Republicans to go wobbly.  The argument is breaking our way.  Hold the line!

If the argument "breaks" your

If the argument "breaks" your way, it will be temporary at best.

Prices will force the same transition that Cap & Trade will promote. This has already begun, although the global recession has slowed demand and thus postponed it a bit. The only question is whether those who have been buying themselves into position to profit from the post Hubbert peak price shocks get to reap the FULL windfall, or whether the transition is a bit more orderly.

The opposition to C&T or Carbon Tax, whetever its motive, serves PRIMARILY the interest of those planning to profit from energy price increases that will be FAR greater than what C&T and Carbon Tax would propose.

A big assumption

This is a pretty big statement for many on the Right.

"The public generally agrees that something must be done about climate change..."

You have a good number of sitting GOP congressmen who would vehemently argue this assumption. There is also a great deal of investment in the world of Right punditry to subvert any notion that Climate Change is real. They'll admit to Jesus coming back to fight the Devil in a Tolkein-like battle before they'll admit to humans causing scientifcially proven problems due to releasing millions of years of sequestered carbon into the atmosphere.

This kind of reminds me of Obama's tactic of pushing for even bigger tax cuts than George Bush, except give them to the non-wealthy. Your tactic makes sense in the same way. Own the issue, but flip the solution on its head.

However, you have quite a lot of work getting the GOP leadership to saw that Al Gore was right all along.

 

 

I think a lot of them read

I think a lot of them read the polls, however, so they know the public support change.

The question in play is a question of what the inevitable transition looks like. Backing off of the "but we don't know" line would create a considerable surge of momentum to do SOMETHING. Right now, a lot of the play is to do as little as possible until more carbon-friendly politicians can be elected.

Still, the political play suggested by this note could be effective if primarily implemented by Republicans that are NOT in carbon denial. There are several.

A good idea

Unlike cap and trade, there are no political giveaways of emissions permits.  Unfortunately, there are problems.

1) The Denialist wing.  They're not going anywhere.   Of course, this has to be truly bipartisan to win (that pesky Democratic majority thing) and it's possible to enact a carbon tax by casting aside the nuts on either side.

2) Those crummy giveaways brought the coal state senators on board.  What's the bribe gonna be for a carbon tax?  Can we at least make it a one-time deal instead of an ongoing thing - does WVU need a new football stadium?

3) Will Grover Norquist score this as a tax?  Revenue-neutral or not, the word 'tax' has become a shibboleth that at once is central to Republican success and part and parcel of its descent into madness.

4) Is there any indication that the Purity Brigades will treat this any differently from cap & trade?  The comments before this one lead me to believe that the reaction will be no different.  They kill new ideas, punish 80% party-liners for their 20% heresies and then tell everyone it'll all be alright because Twitter will be the new talk radio.  Something must be done, and Twitter won't cut it.

The key is to make it

The key is to make it bipartisan enough that the coal state senators can vote against it, which many of them need to do if they want to remain elected. The purity brigades need to be dealt with in the same manner.

climate change

This is insane.  The Republican policy on "climate change" ought to be the truth.  It does not take a scientist, just a modicum of common sense to understand that "climate change" and "global warming" are nonsense.  Anthropogenic climate change is non-existent.  If humans were capable of changing the temperature of the planet, to what temperature should we change it?  Truth is, no one knows what temperature the planet should be, nor how to change it. 

Any one who follows climatology knows full well that there are geologic and cosmic events that have for thousands and millions of years determined the planet's temperature.  The scale of the energy involved in these events is on several orders of magnitude larger than any human activity including CO2 production. The current data and thinking in climatology is that we are at the beginning of a decades long cooling trend probably due to decreased solar activity (characterized by a lack of sun spots....).

Truth is, there are a bunch of politicians and Wall Street shysters that see an opportunity to increase government power and make a ton of money off the global warming hysteria.

Truth is, there are local and global environmental problems that do need to be addressed.  Mostly, these are problems in developing countries - nitrous and sulfur emissions, garbage and sewage dumping in lakes, rivers, and oceans.  Problems that the more civilized world has largely addressed in the past 50 years.

Truth is, it would make national security sense to, in the short term, drill here and now.  This can be done in an environmentally friendly way.  In the long run it would make national security sense and environmental sense to find new energy sources  (nuclear, wind, solar, hydrogen....)

Anthropogenic climate change is complete rubbish. Republicans need to make this clear.  At the same time they need to point out the legitimate environmental problems that the "climate change " hysteria has overshadowed, and acknowledge the need, on occaision, for government action.

Repubicans are not just right wing - they are right in the sense they are truthful.  This ought to be the republican position on the environment - truth. In the long run, truth always wins.

 

rwyoung: You're not listening.

You can support this policy whether or not you believe in anthropogenic climate change. 

A carbon tax functions as a broad-based consumption tax.  Do you believe that that's better than taxing employment?  If so, why would you care what other people think about it?  Congress can't legislate truth, but it does create policy.

The basic science is correct.

The basic science is correct. The ppm count of carbon has leaped in the last couple of hundred years. And, co2 DOES have heat trapping properties.

That said, the pathways for positive and negative feedbacks are considerable, as the climate is in fact complex. While GCM models have improved dramatically, they still must, by definition, oversimplify. Thus, there is inherent uncertainty in predictions.

Curiously, this uncertainty is notably ABSENT from your bold pronouncements that the anthropogenic contribution is zero. Why? Because, for you, the political end justifies saying whatever is expedient. Your commitment to the concept of "truth" is, at best, extremely selective.

(speaking to the original poster, not to Bryan Pick)

 

Umm...Point of Order?

1: Cap And Trade was originally a *Republican* initiative (originating in the Libertarian-Lite free trade uber alles wing).

2: What you're calling for is a poorly disguised way of defunding Social Security and pitting environmentalists against seniors.  It is *very* poorly disguised, if you're going to offer poison pills and pretend to be constructive rather than obstructive, black out the skull-and-crossbones label first.

Party before Policy?

1: What, Republicans aren't allowed to criticize poorly-designed bills that are based on ideas that other Republicans had?  Jon was explicitly supporting a policy that Al Gore promoted.  Would you prefer that fewer Republicans did that kind of thing?

2: I can see where you're coming from on the "seniors vs. environmentalists" thing, but right now it's "seniors vs. workers & employers."  If you'd like to argue that Social Security can't survive if people are more conscious of what it's costing them, I'd like you to elaborate on the point at great length.  Thanks.

Does anyone believe a tax is ever "revenue neutral"?

Jon, take off the tutu, the faux-tiara and put down that policy wand you've been waving around recklessly, ok?  It's embarassing now to all the other arguments you routinely make here about the GOP needs to do "A" or "B" or "C" to reclaim legitimacy and credibility in the eyes of voters.  Now you actually argue that if the GOP just proposes a CarbonTax in exchange for the elimination of some payroll taxes, good policy and good politics will cover the Earth? 

Good God, Mr Tooth Fairy, are you dense and daft, too?  GOP legislators will never, ever propose new taxes that burden consumers in a 1000 ways that policy makers can't even predict at this point with the House-passed version... much less have the credibility to argue it's a win-win for voters. Frankly, you don't look too good in a pink tutu, pal

"Revenue neutral tax legislation" isn't a phrase that voters will believe coming from even a blue-ribbon panel of bespectacled profs and pundits attesting to the "truthiness" of your wide-eyed tax trade deal... let alone the Party who last offered the definitive word on tax legislation: ""Read my lips, No new taxes".

Trading AlGore's Carbon Tax for some watered-down payroll tax reductions is like wishing for the Tooth Fairy to spread her wings and solve everything form nuke disarmament to teenage zits.  It ain't gonna happen and no one will believe it possible after the way that farRight and farLeft advocates hammered "compromise" legislation like the Immigration Bill, the Patriot Act, No Child Left With A Behind", etc.

If this is your best example of how the GOP moves to a New Right or regains credibility, I think the GOP will be well advised to take a pass.  The right strategy is to continue to harp that the Cap & Trade tax hikes will kill whatever rebound the economy does eventually make in 2011... and leave Americans with higher priced electricity, natural gas, heating oil and stoke the fires of inflation so that future economic recovery will be paid for by higher unemployment, fewer jobs for our kids, less luxury for Americans while the Mexicans and Chinese and Indians continue to pollute the Earth like it was 1949!

The right course for the GOP is to argue strongly those points, work on portraying the current Cap & Trade as a tax hike for us and the next 2 generations, it'll kill the economy if the economy rebounds and the biggest polluters in the world get off scot-free.

To argue that the GOP might begin to regain credibility with voters by offering a tax trade deal is Tooth Fairy nonsense.  Voters are moving toward the GOP position on opposing a 2nd stimuli bill, on the impotency of the 1st stimuli bill, on the over-reach by the Obama Administration on HealthCare and, according to Rasmussen, on the Cap & Trade bill as a hidden tax hike.

A Rasmussen Reports poll released on Tuesday shows that 42% of Americans believe that the House-passed bill will hurt the economy. A majority of Republicans -- 56% -- and independents -- 52% -- said the bill would hurt the economy, while 23% of Democrats said the same thing. Thirty percent of Democrats said it would help.

That's where the voice fo the GOP belongs... not listening to some Tooth Fairy nonsense that goes against everything the GOP holds true for the last 40 yrs.  Does our revenue neutral tooth fairy have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale, too?

.

Finally some reality is added to this discussion

Even the Obama people said that if the American people feel that Cap and Trade is a tax hike they will lose the debate. It is insanity for the opponents of Cap and Trade to get into this debate with another tax proposal. In other words throwing the Democrats a lifelline by creating a debate over whose tax is less onerous.

Polls have also shown that when asked most Americans believe that the economy is more important than environmental legislation.Therefore arguing that Cap and Trade will hurt business and lose jobs is a winning argument.

This proposal is a wonkish inside the Beltway idea that will lose the debate for our side.

Thanks Allen... you nailed the "it" in 37 words.

 It is insanity for the opponents of Cap and Trade to get into this debate with another tax proposal. In other words throwing the Democrats a lifelline by creating a debate over whose tax is less onerous.

 

That's ludicrous.

Jon is proposing a revenue-neutral shift.  Zero net rise in taxes.

The Democrats are proposing a super-corrupt system that adds extra taxes on top of what we already have.

There is no debate on which is more onerous.  A "green shift" makes carbon-emitting stuff more expensive, but helps you get a job and get higher pay to make up for it.  The Democrats' cap-and-trade proposal makes carbon-emitting stuff more expensive with no compensation.

This isn't complicated.  It has one moving part.

No that's r-e-a-l-i-t-y... spell it with us, B-Pick

And I think you need to go back to 1st math class and learn to count, B-Pick. Your point of "It has one moving part" is wrong... there's the new carbon tax per Jon Henke and there's the swap for some portion of payroll taxes... that's, ummm, 2 (spelled t-w-o) moving parts, B-Pick. Both of which are more mecurial than Obama's approval ratings.

Second, there's the ancillary three points of Jon Henke's ToothFairy plan... 1) that the GOP can restore its credibility and legitimacy by going against the grain and proposing bigger new taxes; 2) that people will believe ANY politician who claims the swap will be revenue neutral; and 3) that all of that promotes good public policy AND good politics.

Good God, man, there's a bloody brilliant reason why no one trusts govt... its because they have a 250 year record of lying like a DC whore on Friday night.

You've already proven you can't count how many moving parts there are, B-Pick... but I love the notion that, to your simple mind, "this isn't complicated".

Maybe you should skip the 1st grade remedial math class and find a class that teaches you how to live in reality rather than tutu-fairy-dust land?

Re: Jake

First, Jake, cut out the insults.  Nobody helps his case by resorting to insults -- they're petty, and not especially brave when uttered over the internet, using a pseudonym.

The point of my post is that this isn't difficult to explain to the man on the street.  If you want to quibble about whether it's possible to displace one thing with another using only one moving part, you go ahead and do that, but the argument for a tax shift is pretty solid.

Payroll taxes suck.  It's easy to attack the payroll tax when people want to get a job, work more hours and get more money for their work.  Right now, unemployment is high, the hours worked stat is at its lowest recorded level, and people are living more off their paycheck instead of credit than they have in a very long time.  If Repubicans can't sell a payroll tax cut in this economic climate, they can't sell heat to Eskimos.

Carbon taxes suck, but they suck less than payroll taxes, they suck less than cap-and-trade, and they suck a lot less than payroll taxes plus cap-and-trade.  A carbon tax is a consumption-based tax, something conservatives and libertarians have favored over taxes on production for a long time.  The idea of decreasing our dependence on oil, as stupid as many of the proposals for accomplishing it may be, is politically popular.

Better yet, the Democrats don't have a strong case against it.  The payroll tax is regressive, and they've said so for a long time.  They want to reduce carbon emissions, and a carbon tax is the most straightforward way of accomplishing that, inviting the least corruption and doing the least economic damage of any proposal to cut emissions.  Many of them are predisposed to preferring production over consumption -- they claim to love workers and hate conspicuous consumption and SUVs.

You say that it's foolish to believe that anything coming out of Washington could be revenue-neutral.  Why?  I'm pretty cynical about Washington, but a revenue-neutral shift is quite feasible to write into legislation.  Even if it doesn't pass, at least we've proposed it. 

But let's say it does make it through the Congressional sausage factory and the Democrats tinker with it so that it brings in more revenue.  What then?

  1. A consumption-based tax is still far less damaging to the economy than a tax on employment.  The benefits may very well outweigh the costs.
  2. A carbon tax is still less damaging than cap-and-trade, and offers the Democrats far fewer corrupt routes to political fealty.  If you're really cynical about politics, you should be aware of the immense political gains that a party can make when it has something like cap-and-trade to work with.  It's a political pay-off machine.
  3. Republicans can blame the Democrats for changing the legislation to make it more onerous.  Easy argument to make: "Hey, we wrote revenue-neutral legislation.  We'll take credit for the payroll tax cut, but we specifically said it should be revenue-neutral.  Gas prices wouldn't be this high if it weren't for those Democrats."

Again, the Republicans don't propose "bigger new taxes."  They propose equal-sized, less-damaging taxes. 

B-Pick, reality is still a tough concept for you to grasp?

Thaks for the advice about how best to discredit a silly argument --given I have a sense of humor, I chose to take the edge off your silliness (and Henke's) by employing humor & overstatement.

You see it as an insult?  Well, I think someone who can write "I'm pretty cynical about Washington, but a revenue-neutral shift is quite feasible to write into legislation.  Even if it doesn't pass, at least we've proposed it" AND still keep a str8 face must also be a comedian prone to overstatement... or were YOU just insulting our intelligence with that gem of a silly-assed notion?

"Quite feasible"?  Really, now?  I guess your first-hand insight into Congressional intent and how that has historically morphed into absolutely nothing that resembles the drafted legislative language is kind-of, sort-of short on reality, eh? 

Lesson #1 in bill drafting, B-Pick?  The best of intentions by legislators on the simplest of concepts, written into the shortest of legislative drafts RARELY resemble where the agreement was reached or where consensus began... or don't you remember the Prescription Drug Bill or No Child Left Behind or the Patriot Act or countless appropriations bills passed since the begining of the Republic?  Good God, man, get a frickin clue will you or go to the back of the bus with the other silly-notions-generators.

The GOP's march to re-establish credibility with the American people CAN NOT begin with proposing a sweeping tax hike that will impale the economy into an unemploment-inflationary spiral the likes that will make our current crisis look lame by comparison.

And, recall my fair B-Pick, that that is what Mr Henke was first advising here... swap the Dem's Cap & Trade hidden and not-so-hidden tax hikes with a Republican Carbon Tax in exchange for some payroll tax reform that all good souls and men of conscience will agree before hand is revenue neutral.  Right, sell us that bridge in Brooklyn, fair Tooth Fairy.

GOP legitimacy and credibility aren't going to be established by proposing what could be the biggest net tax hike in history --even with a Davey Stockman-like huge asterisk that is/was all revenue neutral (wink, wink, back slaps all around, eh).  Bloody stupid.

Michael Steele has it exactly right on the Obama Cap & Trade Tax Hike... call it what it is, stand firmly against it, label it an economy killer and a jobs killer, do not compromise for the sake of appearing to be collaborative or constructive agents of change.  No wonder Henke penned a piece yesterday urging the GOP to be more collaborative... I knew it was suspect when I first read it.

This isn't a time for the GOP to blink... no matter what inside-the-beltway, policywonk-in-the-ivory-tower, politically-naive pundits propose.

Any less than this is the time for the GOP to be arguing that instead of accepting the Obama Administration's second stimulus, the GOP proposes doubling the 2nd stimulus until every unemployed worker in America is earning at least $75k per year... or, while we are on the unrealistically naive notions of how the GOP can regain credibility, how's this: when we finally work out the Democrat plan for health care "reform", let's have the GOP propose extending it to all 3rd world nations... suddenly, overnight, poverty and disease are gone from the Planet Earth!  No more blight.  No more suffering.  We'll be electoral winners for eternity --or does that sound over the top to you, too B-Pick?  Yeah, it is.  Like swapping a CarbonTax for some revenue neutral gains on payroll taxes.

How noble!  Good policy makes good politics, eh?  Talk about driving a stake into the GOP for a generation.

 

"Humor and overstatement" don't serve you well either.

You aren't just employing humor and overstatement.  You're employing mockery, and you're laying it on thick.  Just stating aloud what's under everyone's nose.

The best of intentions by legislators on the simplest of concepts, written into the shortest of legislative drafts RARELY resemble where the agreement was reached or where consensus began... or don't you remember the Prescription Drug Bill or No Child Left Behind or the Patriot Act or countless appropriations bills passed since the begining of the Republic?

I remember those bills (well, I don't remember appropriations bills going back to the 18th century).  They all were based on flawed concepts to begin with.  And since the status quo is a bunch of terrible legislation that didn't resemble the ideal versions their proponents had in mind, you need better grounds than that to oppose a bill.  So legislation is going to be imperfect -- thanks for enlightening us all.  I suppose we should leave all the current imperfect legislation in place rather than try to reform it, then?

Is there any piece of legislation you would ever support, or should we lock it all in right now?

The GOP's march to re-establish credibility with the American people CAN NOT begin with proposing a sweeping tax hike that will impale the economy into an unemploment-inflationary spiral the likes that will make our current crisis look lame by comparison.

Look, does your entire argument rest on this being a tax hike instead of a revenue-neutral tax shift?  Because the payroll tax is directly bad for employment, while a carbon tax is directed at consumption.  So tell me, if you could design a rock-solid, guaranteed way for this bill to be revenue-neutral, would you support it or not?

Or, let's put this another way: let's say, gun to your head, you had to pass one tax or the other: a payroll tax or a carbon tax.  Which would you choose?

This isn't a time for the GOP to blink... no matter what inside-the-beltway, policywonk-in-the-ivory-tower, politically-naive pundits propose.

As opposed to you (what are your credentials?), or as opposed to inside-the-beltway Michael Steele?

And who's in the ivory tower?  Jon worked on a Senate campaign, he worked in the Senate, and then he became a consultant.  He has never worked as an academic or a think-tanker.

Any less than this is the time for the GOP to be arguing that instead of accepting the Obama Administration's second stimulus, the GOP proposes doubling the 2nd stimulus until every unemployed worker in America is earning at least $75k per year... or, while we are on the unrealistically naive notions of how the GOP can regain credibility, how's this: when we finally work out the Democrat plan for health care "reform", let's have the GOP propose extending it to all 3rd world nations... suddenly, overnight, poverty and disease are gone from the Planet Earth!  No more blight.  No more suffering.  We'll be electoral winners for eternity --or does that sound over the top to you, too B-Pick?  Yeah, it is.  Like swapping a CarbonTax for some revenue neutral gains on payroll taxes.

How noble!  Good policy makes good politics, eh?  Talk about driving a stake into the GOP for a generation.

You've just compared a revenue-neutral tax reform to massive spending bills.  You see how strained your rhetoric is?

I can pretty much tell what your next comment is going to be like, so I'll tell you what: I'm going to make you the same offer I make to everyone who can't or won't debate civilly.  You can have the last word.  I'm out.

And psychologists call this projecting, B-Pick...

I can pretty much tell what your next comment is going to be like, so I'll tell you what: I'm going to make you the same offer I make to everyone who can't or won't debate civilly.  You can have the last word.  I'm out.

On the grade school playground, they just call it chicken.  And you can leave it there.

I get that you can't comprehend that most people --voters and even the simple man-on-the-street-- wouldn't trust any Party or politician who argued that THIS time things will be different and it will be a revenue neutral tax swap... honest, promise, really really, no fingers crossed.  Isn't that called the SpongeBob promise?

Yeah, like a revenue neutral swap is going to happen, B-Pick.  Just like the notion advanced here that the answer lies in having the GOP propose the stupid notion in order to, get this, regain credibility with Americans??? WTF?  Are you really that intent on destroying the GOP for good?  'Cause this silly notion will certainly seal it... we'll out tax the Democrats' plan!  Good thinking, that.

I get you can't compehend simple concept of trustworthiness or credibility. 

I get you can't count, either, like when contending that the proposal is real simple: your words "two moving parts".  Guess what, B-Pick, most legislators can't tell you what legislative intent is on a bill because it's always a moving target... it develops and morphs with added input from other legislators.  You've acknowledged that promise laden bills like the Patriot Act and No Child and the Senior Drug bill were failures in living up to the pre-passage hype and Rose Garden signing uber-hype... and we're to trust that this time the Congress will really do what we want?  A real revenue neutral swap?  Where did you learn about the legislative process?  In a coloring book titled "Legislation for Dummies -Part 3"?

You know where the phrase "revenue neutral" belongs?  Alongside "the check's in the mail", "plastic surgery will cure you" and "my STD isn't contagious right now".  You can't promise a revenue neutral swap because it can't be achieved and any American past age 10 has been alive long enough to know that.  Hell, between the CBO, the WH-OMB and average Congressional leaders, they can't even tell you if Obama's Health Care plan will be a net spending or saving bill... and we're supposed to trust that this time the grand plan will be revenue neutral?

Moreover --and here's the real stupidity behind the proposal-- this is the pathway toward restoring the GOP's credibility??? Yeah, right.  Your support for the proposal reduces to just chickens pecking in the barnyard, B-Pick.  Peck, peck, peck.

Wanna fix the adverse environmental effects of CO2?  Start by pressuring China and India and Brazil through the WB and ExImB to clean up their acts... compared to America today, those guys are pigs when it comes to producing CO2.

And get a lesson or two in legislative processes because you've proven you don't know what you're talking about with just the "two moving parts" point above.

 

I've been saying this for three years.

Except rhat I've been saying the offset to make a carbon tax revenue neutral should be supply-side corporate, income and cap gains taxes. Liberals will say the offset should be payroll taxes. OK - let's make a deal. That part is negotiable. What's not negotiable is that this be absolutely revenue neutral.

Also, there should be a means-tested refundable tax credit, or even a "prebate" like the Fair Tax people propose, that phases out at some point between poverty level and median income. This is to keep the poor folks who don't pay much income or even payroll tax from taking a hit on the higher energy tax.

As long as it is absolutely revenue neutral, this is deal that Adam Smith himself would endorse - trading a tax on consumption with one on working, saving, investing and entrepreneurial risk taking.

Plus, it would be exciting to watch every household and business that uses energy - all of us - become conservation maniacs, with no pious propaganda required to make that happen, only self-interest. The billion innovative flowers that would bloom on both reducing demand and increasing non-fossil fuel supply would also be very exciting. With a moderate amount of education this is something the public could embrace.

On an earlier thread, I

On an earlier thread, I proposed exactly this, and got absolutely roasted.

Thanks for coming around to a way of stimulating debate on this subject.

I do not anticipate that people in states like Iowa, where relatively long trips by auto are commonplace, will be very enthusiastic in the outset. The revenue-neutral approach will attract attention, but the selection of the tax to be offset is critical. I'll leave it to others to debate which tax would be optimum.

I'd choose a business tax, personally.

Focus on Carbon Reduction, not Taxation

I agree with the posters who believe that Republicans should shy away from "taxes" for both policy and political reasons. The real focus should be on providing incentives to reduce carbon emission (yes, incentives have a way of becoming backdoor subsidies) for two reasons. The first is that the change is incremental and will not shock an economy already on the brink (imagine the manufacturing sector's response to a carbon tax), the second is that Republicans need to prove that they can solve problems without using the words "free market." The reason is that the "free market" does not exist for carbon because of varying preferences by other countries. I've posted 10 incrementalist ideas here:

http://www.gopideas.com/~gopideas/page/gop-ideas-10-ways-to-reduce-carbon-without-massive-economic-costs-

Objections

Republicans should shy away from "taxes" for both policy and political reasons. The real focus should be on providing incentives to reduce carbon emission (yes, incentives have a way of becoming backdoor subsidies)

Incentives are subsidies.  (Even a targeted tax break is effectively the same as a payment.  This is particularly visible when you have a budget deficit.)

Subsidies are spending. 

Spending is taxation. (Somebody always has to pay the bill.)

imagine the manufacturing sector's response to a carbon tax

Imagine the manufacturing sector's response to a payroll tax cut.

Republicans need to prove that they can solve problems without using the words "free market." The reason is that the "free market" does not exist for carbon because of varying preferences by other countries.

I don't see how this serves as an objection to a carbon tax.

Agree ... on some points

You are correct that incentives are subsidies, my argument is that the focus should be on the ROI of any carbon reductions. A signficant part of the ROI can be from levering up private contributions. I would much prefer people who have a preference to reduce carbon to bear more of the cost than those that do not. Each individual manufacturer would base its response on its own cost curve and you would create the perverse incentive of subsidizing the least efficient manufacturers. (Those with high worker efficiency ratios would be producing more goods per person, so their relative tax burden would increase as a higher percentage of their inputs are carbon as opposed to personnel.)

If Republicans propose any type of subsidy or tax, they will be explicitly arguing that the "free market" is not perfect. I completely agree with this line of thinking --- but my comment was directed at the reflexive actions of many conservatives that interventions in the marketplace are de facto suboptimal decisions.

Another objection

If Republicans propose any type of subsidy or tax, they will be explicitly arguing that the "free market" is not perfect.

The proposal here is to replace one tax with a different tax.  That has nothing to do with whether the free market is "perfect" or not, whatever that means.

Weird

Since when did Republicans become so reflexively opposed to tax reform?  I haven't suggested a single additional penny in taxes - indeed, this policy would prevent the Democrats from enacting their preferred tax-hike policy and address a lot of other issues without spending by a single penny.

I would understand the opposition to adding a carbon tax, but I really don't understand why people prefer a payroll tax.

Economics of a Carbon Tax

I would be curious as to how the proponents of the carbon-for-payroll tax switch have done the economic modeling. Specifically:

  • A payroll tax cut would spur consumption (net benefit to the economy)
  • This net benefit is mitigated by the increase in cost of goods (manufacturing, but more importantly, the transportation of goods).
  • Displacement in the manufacturing sector (this would occur, as the relative cost of high/low carbon intensity shifts).

The biggest issue is the misalignment of incentives over time. For example, when would the tax swap be revenue neutral? More importantly how would it be calculated --- there would need to be some assumption of carbon use, multiplied by a tax rate calibrated to an assumed amount of payroll taxes. Would the goal to be revenue neutral in year 1?

Let's assume the tax worked and carbon emissions were reduced in year 1. Would this not decrease revenues in year 2 --- while Social Security liabilities grew (as they will over time)? Would the rate of carbon taxation increase to balance the liabilities? This would create a perverse incentive --- the more that is conserved, the higher the tax rate becomes. If not, would the overall effect shift from revenue neural to deficit? We're already running a structural deficit --- so I'd like to know more about how carbon tax revenues grow over time, if the goal is to reduce carbon.

I applaud you thinking --- as you've already topped most Congressional Republicans, my argument is that we should not gamble with any more major portions of our economy --- and instead adopt incremental approaches that strike at the root of carbon emissions: deforestation, congestion, unnecessary travel, etc.

 

Economics of a Carbon Tax

I would be curious as to how the proponents of the carbon-for-payroll tax switch have done the economic modeling. Specifically:

  • A payroll tax cut would spur consumption (net benefit to the economy)
  • This net benefit is mitigated by the increase in cost of goods (manufacturing, but more importantly, the transportation of goods).
  • Displacement in the manufacturing sector (this would occur, as the relative cost of high/low carbon intensity shifts).

The biggest issue is the misalignment of incentives over time. For example, when would the tax swap be revenue neutral? More importantly how would it be calculated --- there would need to be some assumption of carbon use, multiplied by a tax rate calibrated to an assumed amount of payroll taxes. Would the goal to be revenue neutral in year 1?

Let's assume the tax worked and carbon emissions were reduced in year 1. Would this not decrease revenues in year 2 --- while Social Security liabilities grew (as they will over time)? Would the rate of carbon taxation increase to balance the liabilities? This would create a perverse incentive --- the more that is conserved, the higher the tax rate becomes. If not, would the overall effect shift from revenue neural to deficit? We're already running a structural deficit --- so I'd like to know more about how carbon tax revenues grow over time, if the goal is to reduce carbon.

I applaud you thinking --- as you've already topped most Congressional Republicans, my argument is that we should not gamble with any more major portions of our economy --- and instead adopt incremental approaches that strike at the root of carbon emissions: deforestation, congestion, unnecessary travel, etc.

 

Weird, that you miss the basic premise of opposing viewpoints?

but I really don't understand why people prefer a payroll tax.

No, Jon, it isn't that people prefer a payroll tax over a Carbon Tax... the flaw is your suggestion that this is a way for the GOP to regain some credibility... and that you think a tax reform proposal can be drafted a "revenue netural" swap and insure that happens.

Talk about putting a stake into the heart of any probable GOP ascendancy.  With ideas like that, we don't need the Democrats killing us at every turn... we do it to ourselves.

Americans would literally laugh their collective asses off if a politician pledged that a whompingly massive tax shift would be revenue neutral --a promise that even God couldn't keep on Her best day.

Oh yeah, this isn't a reality-based discussion, is it?

 

how to get politicos to do this?

 Very sound strategy as always, Jon.  My only question is how to get Republican lawmakers to listen?

My head

  Industry uses about 90 percent of the water.  They use about 75 percent of energy and dump about 80 percent of the worlds garbage.  Without radical reform of corporations or how we do business we are doomed.  

There is NO such thing as "Climate Change"

We have to stop accepting every liberal premise they blurt out and then offer a conservative option.  The conservative position should be "Grow up, liberals.  There is no such thing as climate change or global warming.  Get lost"

And while you're at it, you

And while you're at it, you should replace the elephant with an ostrich.

Henke this would be political suicide...

...the reason the polls are skewed is because Repub's and especially Movement Conservatives have done such an absolute lousy job of opposing and exposing this climate change hoax.  They have the ammunition ( link ) & ( link2 ).  They simply lack the political will and courage to pick up this political hot potato.  Why? Because it will involve gently and patiently educating the electorate and, in essence, telling them that they're wrong.  And they are wrong!  Someone has to have the courage to tell the voters  or   this nation will descend into 3rd world poverty.  And, of course, China and India are all too willing to take our place.  They're not stupid enough to fall for these ridiculous peddlers of climate change/snake oil. 

You know, you Gen Y'ers are shooting yourselves in both feet.  Its your future. Darvin Dowdy