"A group of former Republican officials (including James A. Baker, Henry Paulson, George P. Shultz, Marty Feldstein and Greg Mankiw) is proposing a carbon tax that would start at $40 per ton and gradually increase.
The proceeds of the tax would be distributed to every American.
The average family of four would receive $2,000 annually in dividends. As the tax rises, so would their dividends. Since everyone would receive the same amount of revenue from the tax regardless of their income level, the dividend would make a bigger difference for poorer families than for wealthier ones.
It’s a win-win: Less carbon in the atmosphere, and more equal distribution of income. That it’s being proposed by Republicans doesn’t make the idea any less worthy.
I’m aware that some on the left would rather use revenues from such a tax to invest in clean energy and other social causes rather than return the revenues directly to the public. That detail can be worked out.
The idea is getting a hearing in the White House. And in these dreadful times, that’s good news indeed."
Robert Reich, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. Time Magazine has named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written 13 books, including his latest best-seller, “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future;” “The Work of Nations,” which has been translated into 22 languages; and his newest, an e-book, “Beyond Outrage.” His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause. His new movie "Inequality for All" is in Theaters. His widely-read blog can be found at www.robertreich.org.