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New York Times: Raise the Gasoline Tax?  Funny, It doesn't sound Republican

Mr. Greenspan was hardly a proponent of raising taxes on energy to encourage conservation, a policy prescription generally associated with the politicians and economists of the left.

Until now. In late September, as he spoke to a group of business executives in Massachusetts, a question was posed as to whether he'd like to see an increase in the federal gasoline tax, which has stood at 18.4 cents a gallon since 1993. "Yes, I would," Mr. Greenspan responded with atypical clarity. "That's the way to get consumption down. It's a national security issue."

...

N. Gregory Mankiw, the Harvard economist who served as chairman of President Bush's Council of Economic Advisers from 2003 to 2005, favored a higher gas tax before going to Washington, and has been banging the drum loudly for it since he left.

...

The roster of what Mr. Mankiw calls "economists and pundits with the good sense to have publicly advocated higher Pigovian taxes, such as gasoline taxes or carbon taxes," includes some of the usual suspects --  Paul Krugman, a columnist for The New York Times, and Al Gore, for example -- as well as unusual suspects like Gary S. Becker, the economics professor and Nobel laureate at the University of Chicago.

Andrew A. Samwick, chief economist on the Council of Economic Advisers from July 2003 to June 2004, and a professor of economics at Dartmouth, is a member in good standing. So is Martin S. Feldstein, the intellectual godfather of a generation of Republican economists.

...

But as much as Republican-leaning economists like Messrs. Greenspan, Mankiw and Samwick may think that it's a good idea, the Republican politicians who control the levers of power in Washington think that it's an awfully bad one, even though gas taxes in the United States are far lower than those in other industrialized countries.

...

... because President Bush and his top political advisers are known to be adamantly opposed to any increase in the gas tax, economic advisers haven't pushed it much. ...

THIS highlights a professional hazard faced by academic economists who serve in presidential administrations. They must act as team players who value the overall success of the administration -- even if they don't agree with all of its policies. As a result, economists must often stow some of their policy ideas in an intellectual coat check at the White House gates, where they can be reclaimed upon return to private life.

Or did anyone slip these guys a copy of Energize America?

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Sun Oct 8th, 2006 at 12:51:17 AM EST
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