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

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.