I couldn't agree more with Pete on the discussions of tax policy that are now occurring as part of the Republican primary campaigns. The Republican primary campaign almost always gets sidetracked by some inane proposal for tax reform. This year it is the 9-9-9. And now we have another version of the flat tax, as if the crushing irrelevance of Steve Forbes to the primaries in 1996 and 2000 were not an indication of how unproductive the discussion will ultimately be. What are the prospects that a Republican President would actually be able to implement such a change if elected? They are equal to the chance that Republicans will both retain control of the House and secure a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate in 2012. In other words, absolutely zero.
The problem that we have with tax policy is that we don't raise enough revenue to cover our expenditures, not the particular
ly ways we choose not to raise that revenue.
Here are two headlines and excerpts to make a budget wonk smile, both from The Wall Street Journal:
Two decades after President George H.W. Bush abandoned his "read my lips" promise, some Republicans are chafing at their party's stand against new taxes.
A few prominent GOP lawmakers believe they will have to raise some tax revenue if they are to bring Democrats along on a bipartisan compromise to address the U.S.'s long-term fiscal problems. Many Democrats want higher taxes to cover at least part of future budget gaps. That has led to clashes between Republican lawmakers and a Washington advocacy group, Americans for Tax Reform, the self-appointed keeper of the party's anti-tax flame.
This article by Michael Flectcher in yesterday's Washington Post is well worth your time. It follows the push for green jobs in Ocala, Florida as it has met with almost no success over the past couple of years. In brief, there is plenty of money for retraining and there are plenty of workers to be retrained, but there is no market for the products. Nor will there be until the price of fossil fuel emissions is much higher. From the article:
The industry's growth has been undercut by the simple economic fact that fossil fuels remain cheaper than renewables. Both Obama administration officials and green energy executives say that the business needs not just government incentives, but also rules and regulations that force people and business to turn to renewable energy.
Without government mandates dictating how much renewable energy utilities must use to generate electricity, or placing a price on the polluting carbon emitted by fossil fuels, they say, green energy cannot begin to reach its job creation potential.
In the name of protecting low-income workers from the high price of gasoline (and other dubious reasons), we did not put a carbon tax in place. But when they lost their jobs, we trained them for jobs that would exist only in a high-carbon-tax environment. Brilliant!