The carbon pricing debate in the United States

In 2007, economist Greg Mankiw wrote an op-ed for the New York Times to argue for a carbon tax. Mr. Mankiw is now an economic advisor to Mitt Romney. Mr. Mankiw is, in fact, among three advisors to Mr. Romney who have advocated carbon pricing (though Mr. Romney officially opposes a carbon tax).

A spokesperson for the candidate’s campaign, meanwhile, did not mince words: “Governor Romney opposes a carbon tax,” she said. A stand-alone tax on carbon will never fly with Republicans, economists and analysts say. But one that is pitched as a single dish in a buffet of tax reforms just might, says Arthur Laffer, an economist who worked in the Reagan administration during the last major reform of the tax code in 1986.

“The one reason why we all just go dingers and hate carbon taxes is because it’s a tax add-on,” Laffer said in an interview. “It’s an additional tax and an additional encroachment of government on the private sector and will actually hurt the economy. That’s a real problem. So therefore, if you can find another tax that is worse than a carbon tax and replace that tax with a carbon tax, I don’t know of many people who would disagree with that.” Laffer called income taxes the “single most damaging tax that you can imagine,” because they penalize nearly every American for contributing to the economy.

Democratic Congressman Jim McDermott has introduced carbon tax legislation and former Republican congressman Bob Inglis is advocating for a carbon tax. Ezra Klein has a dream that carbon pricing will be part of a grand bargain between Democrats and Republicans. Matthew Yglesias recently made the case again for taxing carbon.

Both Barack Obama and John McCain proposed cap-and-trade during the American presidential election in 2008, but cap-and-trade legislation stalled in the Senate.




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The carbon pricing debate in the United States

  1. I honestly cannot believe how much effort you have devoted to this topic Aaron.

    Climate change is pretty much off the radar of Canadians. It’s not in the news at all, mostly because all of the developments recently are things that tend to discredit the narrative.The Green Party barely registers at the polls anymore.

    Are the CPC absolute hypocrites in hammering the NDP about carbon pricing? You won’t get any argument from me on that one. Sure they are. That’s undeniable. But nobody’s following. Nobody cares. The fact that they keep doing it over and over again, and forcing you to keep “catching” them at it, when it’s a topic that Canada has moved on from means you are not covering the important stuff. That’s why they are doing this. Harper does something like this almost every year, and you guys just keep falling for it.

    After 6 years covering this government do you still not recognize a “Squirrel!” moment when you see one?

    • That’s quite the statement coming from someone who rails against how the media isn’t paying attention their own pet issues.

      • Gog see antarctic ice grow and know it mean not getting warmer. Maybe ice just move to antarctic but Gog no understand graph.
        Gog no need science.

      • So, cancel the icebreakers then?

        Oh, wait, the Antarctic is at the other end of the planet, and the whole reason that scientists use the words “climate change” instead of “global warming” is to prevent people from disingenuously pretending that the phenomenon is about everywhere on the planet getting hotter, exclusively, when the actual effects of “global warming” worldwide are understood by scientists to exasperate climactic extremes in BOTH directions, with some localized areas getting dramatically hotter, while other localized areas get dramatically colder (or, wet areas become more prone to extreme flooding while dry areas become more prone to extreme drought).

        Furthermore, if the current Tory government is skeptical about the science of climate change, then the PM shouldn’t have referred to climate change as the greatest threat facing humanity today, and the government should stop using climate change to explain why their focus on the Arctic, and the opening of Arctic sea lanes due to CLIMATE CHANGE is so important.

        • Maybe the PM referred to climate change as “the greatest threat facing humanity today” in the sense that “if we all buy-in to this unproven notion we will be wasting countless dollars and we will all be retreating to stone-age life for no good reason.”

        • Men in white coats say things to scare Gog and make Gog slave.
          Smart man from Hearthland Institute go to law school and tell Gog things OK and make Gog happy.

          • I think I thumbed that down when I should have thumbed it up…

    • I honestly cannot believe how much effort you continue to put into complaining about what you read here John.

      So I guess we’re even.

      Thanks for reading though.

      • You’re welcome. Thanks for replying.

        But I wouldn’t call this a complaint per se. It’s a mild criticism/suggestion. If you are talking about carbon pricing, even using the tone that you do, the Conservatives are winning the discussion. And I’m pretty sure that’s not your intention. Because I can pretty much guarantee you that there is no appetite in the general public for carbon pricing schemes of any kind. You can point out the hypocrisy of the Conservatives until the cows come home (and you’ve written what seems like the same post about it several times now, so they must be almost there!). You’re not wrong about it, at least this time, but I don’t think it’s helping your case. Because while they may have talked about it in the very recent past, no-one believes that the Conservatives would do anything like this anymore, but we know the NDP will. And the more you talk about it, even if its just to remind people of the hypocrisy, the more you remind people of this. Everyone knows the Conservatives are hypocrits already…when even I’m admitting it, who have you got left to convince?

        • So what you are saying is, now that it is common knowledge that Harper is a lying hypocrite we shouldn’t dwell on it? Gotta give you points for novelty on that one.

        • Awesome. You show up here post after post after post, and accuse Aaron of overt bias. He finally points out that nobody makes you read this site, and you’re all backpedal: it’s just a mild criticism, no disrespect and everybody already knows the Cons are hypocrits, and Aaron isn’t actually wrong and besides the public doesn’t care anyway but it’s not helping his “cause.”

          You’re a smart guy john g, I’d love to hear something other than whining from you.

          • Actually, in this case I “accused” him of ineffectiveness, not bias. I actually for the most part agree with him on this one. I just think that the Conservatives love that he’s helping them with the whole beating the “carbon tax” topic to death. He’s doing half their work for them.

          • But ineffectiveness at what? I think that, implicit in your accusation, is that Aaron has an anti-Conservative agenda. Which would be just another accusation of bias.

    • I’m not sure I quite buy this “Why do you keep trying to make Canadians pay attention to something they’re not paying attention to” criticism.

      The fact that the government keeps trying to pull a fast one, and nobody seems to care, isn’t, imho, a reason to lay off of pointing out that the government keeps trying to pull a fast one. Then again, I also think that the fact that no one seems to care is the problem.

  2. In a year in which climate change has been massive news, it’s embarrassing to see our govt waiting to be told what to do by DC.

    Cons are never going to grow up I guess.

  3. Cap and Trade, Carbon Tax, whatever. Pricing Carbon is inevitable. All the discussion is primates arguing over which group of animals is going to pay for it.

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