“We have done extensive polling on a carbon tax,” Podesta apparently told Clinton adviser Jake Sullivan back in January 2015. “It all sucks.”
There is further detail at that link. A quite remarkable David Roberts piece at Vox, worth reading in its entirety, lays out why much of “the left” opposes the carbon tax on the ballot in Washington state. It is revenue-neutral, doesn’t produce enough social justice, and as I would say it doesn’t have the right mood affiliation, among other factors. Economist Yoram Bauman plays a key role in the article, and here is a quotation from him:
I am increasingly convinced that the path to climate action is through the Republican Party. Yes, there are challenges on the right — skepticism about climate science and about tax reform — but those are surmountable with time and effort. The same cannot be said of the challenges on the left: an unyielding desire to tie everything to bigger government, and a willingness to use race and class as political weapons in order to pursue that desire.
I’m not so sure about that portrayal of the Republicans, but still that is a perspective you don’t hear enough. (Scott Sumner comments on the piece.) You may recall my earlier post on Republicans and Democrats:
At some level the Republicans might know the Democrats have valid substantive points, but they sooner think “Let’s first put status relations in line, then our debates might get somewhere. In the meantime, I’m not going to cotton well to a debate designed to lower the status of the really important groups and their values.” And so the dialogue doesn’t get very far.
To return more directly to the title of this post, why don’t we have a carbon tax? I would put it this way: for better or worse, the American people expect their government to solve this problem without raising the price of energy. Funny that.