We currently give polluters permission to dump as much carbon pollution into our atmosphere as they want, free of charge. So if the Simpson-Bowles commission was serious about cutting the deficit, asks Matt Yglesias, why not slap a fee on carbon pollution?
The mere fact that the conservative movement is currently engaged in a massive fit of pretending that greenhouse gas emissions aren’t a problem doesn’t change the fact that greenhouse gas emissions are, in fact, a problem. Taxing them would reduce the quantity of greenhouse gas emissions and help mitigate the problem. It also creates revenue.
If Alan Simpson’s reason for thinking a tax on greenhouse gas emissions is a bad idea is that Simpson is a nutcase who doesn’t believe that greenhouse gas emissions contribute to climate change, then Erskine Bowles should have made him write that on a piece of paper. Then we could look at the proposal and know it’s co-written by a nutcase. It wouldn’t surprise me. There are a lot of nutcases in Washington life. But it’s important to know these things.
Even a small tax on the carbon pollution of only the largest emitters like power plants & factories could bring in billions to reduce the deficit. And if the deficit was ever eliminated, you could refund the tax’s revenues to all taxpayers equally. Doesn’t that make more sense than slashing Social Security? Apparently, conservative Republicans & right-leaning Democrats agree it’s more politically palatable to target the poor than to hold big polluters accountable.