The media will never let a disaster – or a favorable (to them) election – go to waste. So the last month has been propitious for them. Combine Hurricane Sandy and the presidential election with the looming fiscal cliff, and the media have the perfect opportunity to push for a carbon tax.
The New York Times claimed that “economists of diverse viewpoints concur that if the international community entered into a sensible agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the economic benefits would greatly outweigh the costs.” On Nov. 9 The Washington Post declared that “compared to the fiscal cliff, even a carbon tax might look attractive.” And the next day, the Post continued by saying that a carbon tax would be the “best plan” that could address both global warming and the fiscal cliff.
Former Obama aide Cass Sunstein called for conservatives to mirror Regean’s cost-benefit analysis in an op-ed published in the New York Times on Nov. 9. His assumption is, of course, that global warming is, in fact, man-made; therefore, man can stop it.
In an article on Rueters, market analyst Gerard Wynn claimed that a carbon tax would “lead to net welfare benefits” as opposed to the defense and social spending cuts that will happen if the fiscal cliff is not resolved by the end of the year.
New York Times writer Steven Mufson argued in an article published on Nov. 9, that a carbon tax “pleases economists who want to encourage investment and discourage consumption,” it could “reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” and this could be a compromise for legislators who are “opposed to any change in tax rates or deep cuts in spending.”
American Enterprise Institute’s resident scholar Kenneth Green warned about these types of arguments in 2011. He pointed out that, among other problems with such a tax, there is really no way to completely appease environmentalists, like many of the articles calling for carbon taxes claim. “Carbon taxes might be ‘better’ than cap-and-trade or regulations, but then, in a train-wreck, losing a hand is better than losing a forearm, which is better than losing an entire arm,” he wrote. Also, “energy taxes are highly regressive” since it is the poor who pay a higher amount of their income on gasoline and drive older, less fuel efficient cars.
It is ironic that the media and the left continue to champion their heart for the poor while pushing policies, like carbon taxed, that actually hurt the poor the most.