Henry Waxman Has Another New Carbon Tax Proposal

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Brad Plumer informs me today that Henry Waxman and a team of fellow Democrats have released a draft proposal to tax carbon emissions. One way to make this go down more easily is to make it revenue neutral: use the money from the carbon tax to lower other taxes, something the authors suggest they’re doing. The bill, says Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, upholds an important principle: “that all of the revenue generated through this carbon fee will be returned to the American people.”

But in the request for public discussion that follows, here’s one of the points they want feedback on:

What are the best ways to return the revenue to the American people? The discussion draft proposes putting the revenue toward the following goals, and solicits comments on how to best accomplish each: (1) mitigating energy costs for consumers, especially low-income consumers; (2) reducing the Federal deficit; (3) protecting jobs of workers at trade-vulnerable, energy intensive industries; (4) reducing the tax liability for individuals and businesses; and (5) investing in other activities to reduce carbon pollution and its effects.

I’m all in favor of taxing carbon, but I’m afraid that no Republican alive will consider any of these except (4) to represent a return of the money to the American people. The rest are just federal spending programs. I’m glad to see these guys keeping a carbon tax in the public eye, but I’m afraid this has a roughly zero chance of going anywhere.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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