Former Federal Reserve chairs, economists, back carbon tax

Former Federal Reserve chairs, economists, back carbon tax
© Camille Fine

Four former Federal Reserve chairs from both parties joined with a group of leading economists in endorsing a plan to tax carbon dioxide emissions and return the funds to taxpayers.

Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenSenate needs to stand up to Trump's Nixonian view of the Fed The Hill's 12:30 Report: Washington braces for Mueller report Trump struggles to reshape Fed MORE, Ben Bernanke, Alan Greenspan and Paul Volcker, along with dozens of former chairmen of the Council of Economic Advisers and Nobel Laureate economists, signed on to an opinion piece published in The Wall Street Journal Wednesday evening laying out principles for a carbon “dividend” plan that they would support.

“By correcting a well-known market failure, a carbon tax will send a powerful price signal that harnesses the invisible hand of the marketplace to steer economic actors towards a low-carbon future,” they wrote.

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“To maximize the fairness and political viability of a rising carbon tax, all the revenue should be returned directly to U.S. citizens through equal lump-sum rebates,” the piece continued.

The tax should increase annually until carbon emissions fall to a desirable level, they said.

The piece was organized by the Climate Leadership Council, a group formed in 2017 to push a carbon tax and dividend plan.

The plan’s most prominent supporters are former Republican Secretaries of State James Baker and George Shultz. But it also has the backing of big businesses, oil companies and prominent former Republican politicians, among others.

The group is trying to get GOP lawmakers onboard with its climate plan. Republicans in recent years have generally opposed proposals to punish carbon emitters, arguing that it would be too costly and hamper economic growth.

In a statement to The Hill, Baker said the economists’ opinion piece is a significant step forward for the carbon tax plan.

“As this statement by our nation’s leading economists highlights, America can address climate change while reducing regulations, protecting our companies’ international competitiveness and helping the majority of American families get ahead,” said Baker, who served under President Reagan.

“Our carbon dividends plan is the climate solution where all sides win.”