Brad Plumer informs me today that Henry Waxman and a team of fellow Democrats have released a draft proposal to tax carbon emissions. One way to make this go down more easily is to make it revenue neutral: use the money from the carbon tax to lower other taxes, something the authors suggest they’re doing. The bill, says Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, upholds an important principle: “that all of the revenue generated through this carbon fee will be returned to the American people.”
But in the request for public discussion that follows, here’s one of the points they want feedback on:
What are the best ways to return the revenue to the American people? The discussion draft proposes putting the revenue toward the following goals, and solicits comments on how to best accomplish each: (1) mitigating energy costs for consumers, especially low-income consumers; (2) reducing the Federal deficit; (3) protecting jobs of workers at trade-vulnerable, energy intensive industries; (4) reducing the tax liability for individuals and businesses; and (5) investing in other activities to reduce carbon pollution and its effects.
I’m all in favor of taxing carbon, but I’m afraid that no Republican alive will consider any of these except (4) to represent a return of the money to the American people. The rest are just federal spending programs. I’m glad to see these guys keeping a carbon tax in the public eye, but I’m afraid this has a roughly zero chance of going anywhere.