Four Items for the Fiscal Cliff Negotiations

1. A phased-in, but ever-rising, greenhouse gas tax or carbon tax. (Raises revenue, protects the planet.)

2. Tripling the federal alcohol tax. (Raises about $15B/yr. in revenue, prevents violent crime – including about 600 homicides per year – and auto accidents, protects health, prevents birth defects.)

3. Tripling the federal cigarette tax, with half the proceeds from each state going back to that state if its local tobacco taxes are at least half the national average. (Raises about $8B/yr. in federal revenue and gives about the same to the states, protects health, discourages interstate smuggling.)

4. Treating “carried interest” as ordinary income rather than capital gains. It’s only a couple of billion bucks a year, but let’s make the Republicans vote either for or against continuing to give Mitt Romney and his ilk big gifts.

What frustrates me no end is that the first three are obviously efficiency-increasing as well as revenue-raising, and yet I have no confidence that they will even be on the table.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-based Community]

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Mark Kleiman

Mark Kleiman is a professor of public policy at the New York University Marron Institute.