Guest Post by James Handley
I’m a bit surprised that Republicans fell into Boxer’s trap so predictably. With a slim Democratic majority in the Senate and a promised presidential veto, the Lieberman-Warner (“Climate Security”) bill never had a chance. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer forced a vote so the environmental score-keepers could notch one up for the Ds and one down for the Rs.
The bill was deeply flawed — Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and a coalition of other progressive environmental groups point out that it would GIVE AWAY most of the carbon emission permits to polluters. Instead, these groups advocate auctioning ALL permits. Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama also support 100% auction. So Lieberman-Warner was already way behind the political curve.
The bill would have auctioned a minority of permits. Who would the lucky revenue winners have been? Mostly big (polluting) energy corporations.
Rep. Markey (D-Mass) introduced a House bill to auction 97% of permits and distribute revenue to individuals, while Sen. Corker (R-Tenn) offered similar amendments in the Senate: worthy improvements that didn’t get serious consideration (yet).
Lieberman-Warner was a trial balloon, but more than that, it was a trap to entice the howling dogs who deny the climate problem out into the open so Democrats and environmental groups can campaign against them. As legislation, it’s a failure. As political strategy, it lured them out and slapped shut with the alacrity of a mouse trap. I can’t help wondering why the Republican leadership didn’t try to improve the bill (or at least fake doing so) instead of obstructing it. There’s plenty to improve on (like moving from cap-and-trade to a carbon tax and requiring revenue-neutrality) and they could have avoided being tarred as Neanderthal global warming deniers.
Boxer’s political trick worked and may provide the Democratic Party with real political benefits as voters register their impatience in November. Unfortunately, the focus on a poorly-designed bill and the failure to consider constructive changes resulted in a wasted opportunity.
Economists from left to right agree that the gold standard for effective climate policy is a revenue-neutral carbon tax with dividend. Maybe the spectacular crash of Lieberman-Warner will help us start that much-needed discussion after the election.
http://www.spaceweather.com The cosmos is catching up with you.
Gotta love the generous American sheople. I wonder how long until the majority of Americans want to see this tax implemted. A great scam that was years in the making… finally bearing fruit. I just wonder if the tax will be big enough to remove all the volcanos from the earth. Since Owl Goar probably invented the things, he should be ingenius enough to figure out how to erradicate them. This scam will go down exactly like the income tax did. It will start small, and at some point, they will be having arguments whether to keep it at 25 percent or raise it to 30 percent. (You are complaining about 30 percent? Don’t you want your children to have a world to live in when they grow up?) Of course, it is completely irrelevant whether this will do any good. These scare-mongering elitists never keep the same story very long. Same as evolution. Hell, I remember attending middle school in Valencia California in 1986. Boy I wish I kept my geography book that was pretty much filled with propoganda on how the ice ages are coming. Anyone ever look at old national geographics? lol.. suprise! Snow in Baghdad this year? I guess maybe it’s time to revert back to the ice-age story…. The elitists will ponder…"How can we get money if it is ice-ages now.. well…. listen stupid sheople.. it really doesn’t matter… what matters is we need your taxes.. Later we will figure out how to "fix" the planet even though we have little if no impact whatsoever." My last thought is…… gosh… if these elitist’s have little impact on the earth’s climate, (volcanos dwarf what we could ever do anyway) , what in the HELL are they planning on doing on the other planets? They are all heating up too! Maybe the tax should be 50 percent… or more.. no less.. pluto isn’t a planet anymore… 45 percent and don’t worry americans… you can look at it as a 401k….. it comes off the gross… You only will get taxed by the irs from the 55 percent you actually keep of your earnings! You will be just fine. Don’t bitch that other countries won’t pay for this now either…. that is Un-american…
James Handley says
Two words: REVENUE-NEUTRAL.
The Lieberman-Warner cap-and-trade bill that we oppose IS a hidden (and unpredictable) tax: it would siphon trillions out of workers’ wallets and hand it to corporations and traders. That’s what we DON’T want. Not fair and probably wouldn’t reduce global warming.
We advocate pricing fuel according to its carbon content via a tax on the Coal, Oil and Gas companies that would show up in higher retail prices. Then RETURNING ALL THE REVENUE in equal distributions or by reducing other taxes. NO NET TAX increase. NO giveaways to corporations.
The idea is similar to Alaska Permanent Fund. The state taxes oil as it’s extracted and distributes the funds equally to every Alaskan. Would you like a "stimulus check" every month that increased every year? Yes, your fossil fuel prices would gradully rise, but if you’re not in the top 1/5 in terms of flying, driving and over-heating / cooling a mansion, you’d get more back than you paid. You’d reap a windfall if you cut out some trips, turned down heat and a/c, installed insulation and bought more efficient vehicles and appliances. It’s a reward system for fossil fuel energy conservation and shifting to alternative energy like wind and solar, NOT a way for governments to raise money.
Check out the slide show of (conservative) AEI economist Ken Green presenting the revenue-neutral carbon tax idea to the Libertarian Party:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5l43JHQ5cqY. He begins by emphasizing that he would NEVER support a carbon tax that isn’t REVENUE-NEUTRAL. Me too. See my previous post "NOT DEFICIT NEUTRAL, REVENUE NEUTRAL."
It’s frustrating that you and I seem to be in agreement on the basic idea of not burdening people with increasing taxes and yet you resort to name-calling.
There almost certainly will be legislation on global warming. Some, like a revenue-neutral carbon tax are fair and effective. Some, like cap-and-trade with handouts to big dirty energy companies are a rip-off and ineffective.
Those seem to be the main choices. Even our recalcitrant Congress and our "born into oil" President seem to have finally realized that ignoring the climate crisis isn’t an option politically or for suvival.
So Bill, what do you say? Better to go for fair and effective?
think about the "global warming scare" with skepticism. I have seen
the evidence for global change and I am convinced that it is happening.
However, I also see it from a geologic point of view that is bigger than the
typical human perspective, I think, and which accepts mass extinctions.
Maybe it is because I don’t have kids, the thought of global change does not
terrify me, and even if it did, I do not believe all of the scare, even as it
is currently happening. I think that yes, global change, and global
warming is happening, it is fascinating to look at the impact that humans have
made on the planet!! (like the brain specialist watching herself have a stroke)
I remember the "paper shortage" when I was a kid. After saving
and conserving paper with the best intentions, I felt betrayed when I found out
that we no longer have a paper shortage. I remember asking myself
"what does that mean that we no longer have a paper shortage? Does that
mean there are more trees now?” I concluded (in terms that a child would come
up with) that the paper shortage was created and that moralistic
arguments were used to change my behavior for reasons that had little to do
with environmental conservation and saving trees, and I resented that, even as
I don’t go for moralistic and dramatic arguments, (at the same time I believe
that global warming is happening, based on my own interpretation of
environmental measurements). They turn me off. I would rather
that the discussion focus on: who does the environment belong to, and what is
sustainable economically and environmentally? What are the real economics
involved in the use of environmental resources such as burning of fossil
fuels? Let’s have an integrated and big picture examination from this
perspective (or look at the work that has been done in this area). Who
currently makes a profit on the resources that are used to supply energy?
How much profit do they make? Is this working? Is this
sustainable? Why have many alternative technologies not been explored further
up to now? Let’s examine the current system, learn from our mistakes and
move forward. It seems to me that a carbon tax is a step in the right direction.
Should anyone make a huge profit on the resources that we use to supply energy?
How is the cost of that energy determined and where is that money
going? What are the cheapest (including consideration of environmental
economics) ways that we can produce energy? Given limited energy resources,
what are the best ways to motivate individuals, large corporations, and our own
nation, to conserve fuel and to consider the true cost of their actions? I
think that the answer is to have a sustainable system that charges the true
cost for the energy used.
John Burton says
To make a carbon tax feasible politically, we must always list it as "a revenue-neutral carbon tax" and add that the revenues will all go to people, none to corporations.
Renewables urgently need continued government funding , but this should come out of other government revenues.
lig tv says
Headlines Climate Bill Voted Down (Grist, Carbon Tax Blog)High Price of
Oil-Based Asphalt Delays Paving Projects (USA Today)Rural Areas Reeling
Beautiful Girls Gallery says
Global warming is becoming such an obvious problem that someone somewhere other than the US Preisdent needs to step up to help drive the bus!
Alicia Meyer says
Global Warming and Climate Change is the biggest environmental issue that we face these days. the long term effects of these environmental changes to a nations economy is quite damaging. there would be a shortage in food supply as well as on water supply too.