Weekend Swap Meet: Taxes, Death & Sarah Palin
A bump for Keeley: One largely overlooked finding in news coverage of this week’s much-discussed PPIC poll was evidence of strong statewide support for a pollution tax on carbon-based fuels.
As a political matter, the finding is significant because the California Commission on the 21st Century Economy – aka the Parsky Commission – is considering such a levy as part of a package of liberal proposals, as the group works towards a formal recommendation for reforming state tax policy.
In the poll, 56 percent of those surveyed said they support a carbon tax, with 35 percent opposed. Democrats – 73-to-20 percent – and independents – 52-to-39 percent – both back the idea, while Republicans oppose it 60-to-33 percent.
The carbon tax question was one in a series that PPIC asked to test public attitudes about global warming. Six in 10 Californians believe that the effects of global warming have already begun, while 75 percent say immediate steps are needed to counter its effects.
The poll-takers also asked whether people favor a “cap and trade” system of regulating greenhouse gas emissions. Although Californians also favor such a plan, they do with only a plurality of 49-to-40 percent, with both Democrats and independents backing it by smaller margins than the carbon tax; Republicans oppose it, but like it slightly more than the carbon tax.
A tax on carbon-based fuels is one element of a plan for overhauling the state’s tax system that has been presented to the Parsky Commission by Santa Cruz County Treasurer Fred Keeley, a former Assemblyman, who leads the commission’s liberal faction. Keeley’s proposal calls for the “pollution tax” to move inversely with the price of crude oil, in order to put a floor under the price of gasoline.
“As proposed, the fuel tax will help to stabilize state revenues and reduce volatility by providing a steady source of revenue,” Keeley said in a presentation to fellow commissioners. “By supporting the clean energy and transportation industry, which many investors view as the next growth industry, this proposed tax reform will advance California’s role as a leader in the clean energy sector.”
(Memo to Fred: Hey, clean out your cell phone voice mail, man – how are we supposed to get a fresh quote?)
Shock doctrine: threat or menace? Calbuzz bets that Tom Campbell, the Dudley Do-Right of California politics, is the only candidate in America to issue a press release in which he gets all misty on the occasion of the, uh, third anniversary of the death of Milton Friedman.
“This Friday would have been Milton Friedman’s 97th birthday,” Campbell announced to the state’s political press corps, many of whose members, remarkably, might have remained otherwise oblivious to the occasion (we name no names). “He passed away in November, 2006, vibrant and insightful to the very end of his life.”
Ah, Milton, we hardly know ye’.
Nothing if not terminally earnest, the Republican wannabe’ governor recounted his long, personal history with the hard line conservative economist, who served as Campbell’s faculty adviser at the University of Chicago, before finally getting around to the political pandering: “On his birthday, it is an appropriate moment…to take a warning from his life’s work about current attempts to inject government regulation more and more into our country’s economy.”
Coincidentally, a very different view of the late Professor Friedman was propounded yesterday by state labor leader Willie Pelote over at California Progress Report.
“…economic shock therapy is based on the theories of University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman, who strongly believed that governments should play no role in the economic sphere other than to protect the rights of property owners…(S)ocieties in which these policies have been enacted are generally characterized by increased poverty, an ever widening gap between rich and poor, and a widespread host of social and economic problems most commonly associated with Third World countries.”
Boy, we just can’t wait for that constitutional convention to Bring Us All Together.
Palin Redux: As Politico was reporting Friday that Sarah Palin has decided to stiff the Simi Valley Republican Women by backing out of her previously announced speech at the Reagan Library (Palin let them know via Facebook), Calbuzz was still trying to get our heads around the erstwhile Alaska’s governor farewell address.
To us, she mostly sounded like your teenager, who wrecks the family car, then insists you should loan it to her again because if she thought she was going to wreck twice, would she even ask?
“It is because I love Alaska this much, sir, that I feel it is my duty to avoid the unproductive, typical, politics-as-usual, lame-duck session in one’s last year in office. How does that benefit you? With this decision now, I will be able to fight even harder for you, for what is right and for truth.”
Keeley’s carbon tax is a 19 cents a gallon fuel tax with the proceeds going to the general fund of the state, i.e. a tax increase on every driver.
The PPIC question was:
“Would you support or oppose a carbon tax
on companies for their greenhouse gas