Rex Nutting’s Market Watch commentary (see "Quote of the Week") properly criticizes the presidential candidates for coming up with Rube Goldberg energy plans instead of having the guts to show leadership by proposing to increase the price of fossil fuels. It’s a fair critique, but it’s the rare candidate who has Senator Dodd’s courage to propose a tax while running for office.
After the election, when there is less concern about cheap shots distorting policy discussions just before voting, it will be far easier to consider the best approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. After the election it will be possible to explain that a revenue-neutral carbon tax is a tax-shift, not a tax increase, and that will be good for both the environment and the economy. After the election it will be easier to get past the rhetoric and to recognize that both carbon taxes and cap-and-trade increase prices. After the election, when there is an opportunity for a relatively objective analysis, citizens and elected officials will be able to compare a revenue- neutral carbon tax (which raises prices gradually with an upwards trajectory that gives families and businesses time to adjust by using energy more efficiently and substituting renewable energy for coal and other fossil fuels) to cap-and-trade (which produces volatile energy prices and, under most proposed legislation, huge windfalls for polluters).
For now, we can wait until after the election. Or, take a look at the headlines to the right of this page to learn about the more serious discussions taking place in Canada and Europe.