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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What is McCain Thinking?

I'm not a huge fan of Obama's windfall profits tax idea by itself for much of the same reasons I don't like general Pigovian taxes on oil by themselves.

But, the idea, when viewed with the rest of Obama's energy proposals of investing in alternatives and increasing CAFE (all of which work to counteract the problem of oil dependency), looks to me like an ingenius way to sell a new tax / price increase to the American public. It's a bit more distortionary than a consumption tax since it would shift the burden to domestic oil prodcuers, but the tax itself is rather modest in the grand scheme of things. I'm still skeptical that it will all work out in the end, and unlike some of my econ friends, I am worried about "feeding the beast" in a time of war, etc.

Having said that, I like McCain's idea of offshore drilling much less. And I like the idea of incentivizing off shore drilling about as much as I like my teeth to be, well, drilled. Providing incentive against the environment sounds alot like GW Bush, and not a lot like the McCain I was rooting for in 2000. This is short-term thinking at its worst.

"McCain on Monday said incentives could possibly be provided for states that choose to permit exploration off their coasts, adding that "exploration is a step toward the longer-term goal."

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