(CNN)A few days after winning the presidency, Donald Trump visited Manhattan’s posh 21 Club and told the swells dining there, “We’ll get your taxes down. Don’t worry about it.”
No matter. “If Trump turns off the satellites, ” Gov. Jerry Brown said, “California will launch its own damn satellite.” Given California’s lead in confronting climate change, we can well believe that Brown, who heads the world’s fifth biggest economy, would follow through on that promise. You can bet that the work to build the satellites would almost all land in California.
In 2004, California set fuel-economy standards higher than the federal government’s. Twelve other states followed California’s lead and after an unsuccessful suit to stop the stricter standards, the auto industry came around.
In 2010, California required that 33% of its electricity come from renewable energy sources by 2020. It was recently raised to 50% by 2030. Now 30 states have renewable energy requirements.
“Cap-and-trade” is a market-based approach to cutting emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases. When Congress failed to pass cap-and-trade legislation, California set up its own system. As of this writing, 10 states have done likewise.
This isn’t just environmental do-gooding. It is economic development. Almost 60% of all clean-energy venture capital in the United States ends up in California.
The federal income tax has been called a blue-state tax because the higher incomes tend to cluster in Democratic strongholds. What’s especially unfair about this is the federal tax code does not account for cost of living, which is highest in the elite coastal cities.
Someone making $90,000 in Houston would have to pull in $162,000 to live as well in San Francisco, according to BankRate’s calculator. Yet, all else being equal, the San Franciscan pays far more taxes to the federal government than the Houstonian.
There’s no reason why like-minded states can’t get together and solve problems, including local challenges and international ones like climate change. For the richer blue states, a reduced federal tax burden would leave them with the added means to address these challenges. And the nicest part: They can spend the money at home.