Dingbat legislation

Some Inconvenient Truths: Rep. John Dingell wants his colleagues to be honest about the costs of tackling global warming


That being said, Mr. Dingell has made clear to the auto industry that his colleagues are intent on seeing some sort of CAFE hike, and that the industry would do well to support him. "I told them, 'Your best interest is in going with me, and let me tell you why. You are going to hate the bill I give you, but it's going to be a bill with which you can live. If you don't work with me, you'll still get a bill. And you'll hate it. But it will be a bill you can't live with."

So if the current proposals for a climate program aren't workable, what does Mr. Dingell think is the right equation? He says he's committed to a bill that makes drastic cuts--some 60% to 80% emissions reductions by 2050--since anything less won't do much good. He also thinks any climate program needs to include an array of powerful tools that will allow policy makers to truly influence how much energy people use.

All this argues for new energy taxes, he says, because higher energy prices are one of the few things that cause people to cut back consumption. While Mr. Dingell has yet to unveil his broader climate-auto legislation, he has been releasing broad outlines. It will include a cap-and-trade system, but alongside that will be a big new carbon tax (probably around $50 a ton), an estimated 50-cent-a-gallon increase in the gas tax, and an end to the mortgage-interest deduction for Americans who own homes larger than 3,000 square feet.

Taxes, he argues, will give policy makers more options in influencing behavior. He uses the example of a gas tax. "Why would I do that? First of all, it means I can reduce the use of gasoline, and I can make it easier for CAFE to work."

But he also explains that it allows policy makers to "differentiate between fuels." By taxing gasoline but not diesel, for instance, he hopes to get more people into diesel cars. That would further reduce emissions, he argues," since diesel gets "about a 20% to 25% fuel benefit."

Finally, Mr. Dingell says new taxes, and the revocation of the mortgage interest deduction, are the only way to truly spread around the sacrifices necessary for significant emissions reductions.

Comments: Yet another tax proposal from the Democrats! As one with a house larger than 3000 square feet this would impact me. I know for a fact that my house is much more energy efficient than a close relative whose home is half the size of mine. See earlier CDF Post on the Representative Dingbat (err ... Dingell) legislation.

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