Oregon’s counterproductive tax system briefly experienced some serious discussion in the state legislature, according to today’s Oregonian. Gridlocked returned quickly, of course, but there were a few shining moments of light. There’s little sign yet that tax shifting-taxing pollution rather than paychecks-is about to catch on in the Beaver State. The idea remains too novel, and dramatic tax reforms almost always come during large political crises when one party controls both legislative and executive branches. But serious discussion is something. And eventually, the rock-ribbed conservative notion of aligning our incentives with our objectives will break through.
Fiscal conservatives and environmental liberals banded together, for example, in the U.S. House of Representatives this week, as the Anchorage Daily News reports (registration required). They eliminated $35 million of subsidies to logging road construction in southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. (We discussed these subsidies here.) As in Salem, the outbreak of sanity may abate quickly. The Senate and White House are unlikely to follow the House’s lead. But it’s something. And the largest federal budget deficits in American history will eventually focus the Congressional mind.