It’s all about the money: the revenues from a carbon tax

Here is Part Two (April 26, 2016) of David Roberts’ Vox post on how to overcome the “political hurdles facing a carbon tax.” Apparently these hurdles include the stands of some carbon tax advocates.

In the “anti-politics of revenue-neutrality,” Roberts talks about his struggle in the past to understand the “disdain for compromises and trade-offs that come with policy in a fractious democracy.”

He tells us the case boils down to the “contention that dividends are the key to political acceptance of an ever-rising  carbon tax.”  He finds this assertion without evidence.  He is critical of carbon tax purists, those who are “messianic about carbon pricing,” or “ritual invocations of political will.”

“Political restraints have implications for policy design” is helpful. Roberts refers to Stokes’ and Mildenberger’s essay in the SSN Forum for its history of how “regressive distributional impacts have been used as a political weapon against every energy tax ever proposed.”

Roberts calls for for “clean energy investments,” and gives evidence of their popularity.

In the end, “Getting the mix right” of uses of the carbon tax revenue is key to its political fate.  Roberts’ dialogue “How to sell this thing” was compelling.

Roberts says the March Forum by Scholars Strategy Network on equitable carbon pricing “triggered all this.”  It is neither fair nor possible to compare Roberts’ blogs and the essays in the Forum.  The Network is composed of university faculty members, writing for the public. Vox is a different kind of venue. But Part Two of Roberts’ post could have used some editing.

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