The New York Times reported Friday that several Republican governors in red states were considering shifting away from state income taxes and towards state sales taxes. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Sam Brownback of Kansas, and Dave Heineman of Nebraska are all considering such a shift, which the Times said was "long championed by conservatives but accepted up to a point by economists of all stripes." Economists believe that long-run growth would be better served by taxing consumption rather than income.
My question is, then why not a carbon tax? If tamping down consumption and encouraging production is a good thing, then why not tamp down only that consumption that leads to more greenhouse gas emissions? My guess is that Jindal, Brownback, and Heineman are all smart enough to secretly believe that climate change is a real risk, but are too afraid to politically approach the subject. Jindal, who lectured the GOP last Thursday to stop being the "stupid party," must certainly recognize that a carbon tax, even in heavily oil-dependent Louisiana, must make economic sense. After all, it's not as if tiny Louisiana's increased efficiency would hurt oil prices. I suppose it would be expecting too much for Louisiana to be like Norway, exporting oil but using the money to internally fund domestic needs, like education.