A Tax Everyone Can Love (But No One Actually Does)

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Doyle McManus writes today that a carbon tax would promote efficiency, reduce air pollution, slow climate change, and increase energy independence. What’s more, conservative economists like the idea:

If it were part of a “revenue neutral” deal, in which all the taxes that came in were returned to the taxpayers some other way, it wouldn’t cost a nickel. If it were part of a revenue-raising deal, in which some of the taxes didn’t come back, it could help cut the federal deficit and reduce the national debt.

So let’s consider this a test of the American political system: How long can Congress resist an idea this good?

How long indeed? Let’s allow McManus himself to answer the question:

Until 2011, there was at least one conservative champion of a carbon tax in the House, Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.). But Inglis was defeated in the 2010 GOP primary by a tea party candidate who criticized him for believing in global warming. “I really am the worst commercial for this idea,” said Inglis, who now runs a think tank promoting the carbon tax. “There are lots of Republicans [in Congress] who know better … but they’re not going to come out of their foxholes until they think it’s safe.”

Okey doke. Last year there were about 240 Republican House members. A grand total of one (1) supported a carbon tax. For this, he was primaried and lost. Today the number of Republican House members who support a carbon tax stands at zero (0).

So how long can Congress resist an idea this good? Probably a good long time.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend