Irwin Stelzer is an establishment figure in conservative circles (he was editor of The Neocon Reader for example). He has been pushing conservatives to embrace a carbon tax, and recently had a piece in The Weekly Standard to that effect. I respond at IER. An excerpt:
As Stelzer himself notes, many of the people clamoring for a carbon tax are not doing so because they are sleepless at 3am, worrying about atmospheric CO2 concentrations. No, many of the most powerful people pushing a carbon tax (and other “green” policies) do so because they have a disposition of favoring central planning over market outcomes. (That’s why, for example, so many of the people who warn about the imminent threats from CO2 emissions also oppose nuclear power, even though it is emission-free.)
Stelzer is right when he considers Krugman’s hypocrisy on these matters;Krugman only pays lip service to the “market solution” of a carbon tax, and has no problem with the EPA acting directly to shut down coal-fired power plants since Krugman thinks it’s obvious that this is the “optimal” outcome.
Yet Krugman’s hypocrisy on this point is hardly a reason to call his bluff, as Stelzer recommends. If the U.S. government were to implement a carbon tax, and if this allowed coal-fired plants to survive, Krugman then would claim that the carbon tax wasn’t high enough, or that it needed to be supplemented by other top-down interventions. He wouldn’t shrug his shoulders and say, “Aww shucks, you wily conservatives got me, I guess coal-fired power plants are good for America after all.”