Friedman and the Carbon Tax

FRIEDMAN AND THE CARBON TAX….Yesterday I dinged Tom Friedman for claiming that none of the leading presidential candidates supports a carbon tax. In fact, all of the leading Democratic presidential candidates support cap-and-trade plans with 100% auction of CO2 credits, which is effectively the same thing as a carbon tax. So how did Friedman come to make this mistake? Ezra Klein speculates:

I wouldn’t, in this case, chalk up to ideology what I can attribute to incompetence. Instead, I’d bet that Friedman simply doesn’t understand that auctioned permit plans are essentially equivalent to carbon tax plans.

Obviously we’re trying to engage in mind-reading here, but I’d offer up a different reason. I don’t think Friedman’s mistake was ideological in the sense that he hates Democrats. And I don’t think he’s stupid. The average man on the street may not know that cap-and-trade has pretty much the same effect as a carbon tax, but I’ll bet Friedman does.

But here’s the thing: he decided to write a column that railed against America’s unwillingness to take serious action to cut back on oil use. Having already admitted that Nancy Pelosi has pushed a fleet mileage increase through the House, his entire thesis would evaporate if he also admitted that every leading Democratic candidate has proposed a serious energy reduction plan. And he was simply unwilling to lose his entire thesis. So he fudged.

In other words, he acted like a politician. Maybe he should run for president.