Just a minute (and 20 seconds).  Almost like going to church, without having to get dressed up.


Patrick Johnson:  “The progressive budget  you endorse has some major problems. Broadly speaking, the biggest problem is it calls for tax revenues of between 21.4% and 22.1% of GDP. For the last 70 years, while tax rates have varied all over the place from preposterously high to quite a bit too low, tax revenue has averaged 18% of GDP with very little deviation. Never, not even during the height of World War 2 nor during the biggest bubble in human history in 2000 producing spectacular, ephemeral capital gains has tax revenue ever been even 21% of GDP. So it seems unrealistic to think the government could actually collect that much revenue.”

Looking at this table, I note that federal excise taxes have dropped from close to 3% in the 1945-1955 period to 0.5% today.  So what if we imposed a carbon tax?  It seems as though that would be a hard one to avoid, as it would appear on your utility bill and at the gas pump.  Of course, by conserving and being more efficient, you likely COULD lower your bill by enough to offset the tax — good!

So maybe this is a solution?  We raise that extra 3% revenue to get receipts up to what the Progressive Budget calls for . . . many people avoid the pain by improving their energy efficiency (weatherizing their homes and the like) . . . phasing the tax in over a few years to give them time . . . we become a more energy-efficient nation . . . a nation with adequate funds to modernize our infrastructure . . . to become more prosperous, healthy, and secure.  Imagine that.


Had we phased in a dime-a-year increase in the gasoline excise tax starting in the late 1970’s — as so many people realized we should but considered politically impossible — we would today have $4 a gallon gas (oh, look — we do!), and a dramatically more fuel-efficient fleet of vehicles, most of them produced by GM, Ford, and Chrysler.  Instead of sending trillions of dollars abroad to buy gas we then burned into thin air, we could have kept that cash, using it to lower the income tax and to finance smart investments in our future.

Too late for that now.  But not too late for a carbon tax.



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