Saturday, July 07, 2007

A saboteur joins the club

John Dingell joins the Pigou Club, with the apparent goal of trying to undermine it:

Counting on Failure, Energy Chairman Floats Carbon Tax

A powerful House Democrat said on Friday that he planned to propose a steep new “carbon tax” that would raise the cost of burning oil, gas and coal, in a move that could shake up the political debate on global warming.

The proposal came from Representative John D. Dingell of Michigan, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and it runs directly counter to the view of most Democrats that any tax on energy would be a politically disastrous approach to slowing global warming.

But Mr. Dingell, in an interview to be broadcast Sunday on C-Span, suggested that his goal was to show that Americans are not willing to face the real cost of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. His message appeared to be that Democratic leaders were setting unrealistic legislative goals.

The article seems to suggest that Mr Dingell's proposal is not sincere but rather a cynical ploy. Sadly, I fear it might work as a ploy, for good economics may not make for good politics here. The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reports:

A majority of Americans believe it is important to reduce the energy consumption from automobile use, the poll shows. When considering a range of strategies, 79% of respondents said encouraging the development and use of alternative fuels is important and 73% said it is important to increase fuel efficiency standards on all vehicles. Only 5% of those polled said they support creating a tax on driving.
We economists need to keep pounding on the first lesson of economics: TANSTAAFL.