A win-win on the na­tional debt

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION -

If Congress is in­tent on pass­ing a tax-re­form bill, lead­ers from both par­ties should in­sist that it not pump more steroids into the na­tional debt [“Tax re­form for cowards,” editorial, Sept. 29]. Pub­licly held na­tional debt now tops $14 tril­lion. It’s al­ready headed for al­most $25 tril­lion over the next 10 years, push­ing the ra­tio of debt-to-gross do­mes­tic prod­uct higher than ever, even the peak just af­ter the end of World War II. Pres­i­dent Trump’s pro­posal is pour­ing gaso­line on the fire, en­dan­ger­ing our ca­pac­ity to fund a strong na­tional de­fense and to take care of our ag­ing pop­u­la­tion.

The best so­lu­tion would be a cre­ative, bi­par­ti­san com­pro­mise that gives our deal­mak­ing pres­i­dent the lower rates he seeks with­out pil­ing on more debt: a fee on car­bon emis­sions to pay for the tax cuts. A $49-per-ton fee on emis­sions, in­creas­ing by 2 per­cent (plus in­fla­tion) a year, would gen­er­ate $2.2 tril­lion over 10 years. Re­bate half to cover the im­pact on lowand mid­dle-in­come house­holds and use $1.1 tril­lion to cover cut­ting rates. It would also enable our coun­try to honor its Paris cli­mate pledge. This is an ef­fi­cient, free-mar­ket, non­reg­u­la­tory idea that de­serves bi­par­ti­san sup­port.

Walt Min­nick, Boise, Idaho The writer, a Demo­crat, rep­re­sented Idaho’s 1st Con­gres­sional Dis­trict from 2009 to 2011 and is co

founder of the Part­ner­ship for Re­spon­si­ble Growth.

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