Fight climate change by taxing 'McMansions,' U.S. Congressman says

Fri, 2007-08-10 10:25Bill Miller
Bill Miller's picture

Fight climate change by taxing 'McMansions,' U.S. Congressman says

John Dingell, chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said he will call for an economy-wide tax of about $100 per ton of carbon dioxide emissions, a cap-and-trade system, and extra funding for research on renewable energy.

But his most controversial call was for slashing the mortgage-interest deduction for “McMansions,” defined as homes larger than 3,000 square feet and that use more energy than smaller houses.

“These are all new ideas,” Dingell said. “I know I'm going to catch hell for them,” but “if we are serious about global warming, we need to reduce consumption by making it more expensive.”

Not surprisingly, home-contracting firms criticized Dingell's proposal as misguided and economically detrimental.

Comments

J.Dingell is one of a rare breed of American power-brokers not resigning his great grandchildren to live through a pre-industrial (or contemporary African) standard of living. Good job.

Sure, it starts with 3000 SQ.Ft, the it goes to 2000, then 1000. and before you know it another the right to claim anything on our taxes is lost. Stop it before it goes to far, and we all end up losing big time.

Even if this bill doesn't pass (and I give it a snowball's chance . . .) it's high time somebody stood up & said it! Considering the average family size has dropped dramatically since the post-war boom, it is incomprehensible to me why people feel they need so much space. It's quite horrifying to see these monster houses being built right to the lot line, gobbling up productive land and/or habitat. Wouldn't it be great if it could be turned on its head and prestige would come with living in the smallest, most efficient house on the block?

Lady, move to Russia. You are obviously a communist. Those that work for the American Dream should have what they want. Don't look now, but there are a heck of alot of middle class people in 3000 sq ft. homes. We make the economy go and enjoy what we have. Penalize us and you will shut down the economy, increase forclosure rates and likely cause a major, prolonged recession.

By the way, I just built a 4000 sq. ft. home. Ever since I moved in, my electric and gas bills have been 50% of what they were in my 2000 sq. ft. home. I use less energy because the house is more efficient. But that's something you greenies seem to overlook.

Dingell in the past has fought all attempts to increase fuel efficiency regulations for vehicles and in a recent news report has been described as drafting certain-to-fail legislation on purpose. I think this is it. He may be serious about doing something, but I don't think so. If he was serious, there would be something there about the collection of these taxes being offset by reducing other taxes (e.g., income tax).

I would hypothesize that this particular initiative by Dingell is an attempt to cast particular aspects of climate legislation being considered in Washington, namely, cap-and-trade programs, in a negative light by proposing the most stringent, yet plausible, measure that he and his staff could come up with-- something radical enough to be unpopular and voted down.

Then, he might be able to make the argument that the American people don't want this particular kind of legislation to be implemented and that it would be bad for the country, economy, etc. as justification for voting down some kind of integrated House and Senate climate change bill in the fall that could possibly include revised CAFE standards that were passed in the Senate's version of the bill.

I would be highly surprised if Dingell proposed this measure out of rising concern about global warming, but rather as a rhetorical tactic to prevent any legislation with CAFE standards from passing. Note that his constituency includes businesses and jobs that could be hurt by revised standards (i.e. in the American auto industry), and that his wife was a vice-chairman of the GM Foundation as recently as 1999/2000.

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