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.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation