A Sensible Grand Bargain Addresses Climate Change

A blog about business and economics.
Nov. 8 2012 4:27 PM

A Sensible Grand Bargain Addresses Climate Change

Dean Baker says that people who really care about future generations should be talking about climate change not the national debt.

I couldn't agree more. But I'd go even further. The structure of the long-term deficit debate goes like this. Democrats won't agree to major cuts in projected spending on programs for the elderly unless Republicans agree to a "balanced" package that also includes tax increases. But Republicans don't want to raise taxes on the rich. The sensible compromise would be to raise taxes on the non-rich, but obviously neither party wants to put forward a tax plan that would just lead to them getting clobbered by the opposition. But a Republican who was willing to propose raising additional tax revenue through a substantial carbon tax wouldn't just get slammed by the full force of the progressive community. Of course some elements of the Democratic coalition wouldn't like that idea, but others would love it.


I'm not one to go all gaga over grand bargains, but this is the grand bargain that actually makes sense—a proposal that would divide both parties' core coalitions. Fossil fuel interests wouldn't like it, but it's very favorable to the generic rich person. Populist Midwestern Democrats would hate it, but coastal liberals would like it—a plan like that wouldn't fully address the climate crisis by any means, but it would be a huge step forward.

Is this even remotely likely? No. It's a pipe dream. But pretty much any kind of grand bargain is more-or-less a pipe dream given the objective structure of incentives. As long as people are going to spend time writing about pipe dreams, this is the one that's worth talking about.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.



The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10


Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Sept. 30 2014 2:36 PM This Court Erred The Supreme Court has almost always sided with the wealthy, the privileged, and the powerful, a new book argues.
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
Lexicon Valley
Sept. 30 2014 1:23 PM What Can Linguistics Tell Us About Writing Better? An Interview with Steven Pinker.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 6:44 PM Ebola Was Already Here How the United States contains deadly hemorrhagic fevers.
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.