Ezra Klein sat with Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who with Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and former Reps. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.) and Wayne Gilchrest (R-Md.), authored an op-ed arguing that the country could address its most pressing fiscal and environmental problems by introducing a carbon pricing system, to discuss the premise behind their plan and the reality of its chances for passage.
According to the op-ed, "The United States could raise $200 billion or more over 10 years and trillions of dollars by 2050 while cutting carbon emissions by 17 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050."
Among the questions raised by Klein in the interview are the reticence of Republicans to support anything that can be interpreted as a tax hike. To which Waxman acknowledges the challenges but sees his plan as a smoother pathway to deficit reduction amongst an assortment of potentially painful choices. "I think it's going to be a challenge to get Republicans and others to support putting a price on carbon. But we have to consider the alternatives. Will it be easier to slash Medicare benefits? Make deep cuts to defense? Raise income taxes? A climate policy is the easiest way to face these challenges."
Furthermore, Waxman sees a benefit to businesses by providing incentive and certainty for investment. "I think a market-based policy would protect American families from climate disasters and level the playing field for clean energies like wind and solar. And maybe even more importantly given our economic downturn it would provide urgently needed certainty for businesses to invest in energy, where we're now allowing China to race ahead of us on the energy industries of the future."