Krugman’s blog, 2/4/16

There were two posts yesterday.  The first was “Going Green, For Real:”

I wrote earlier this week about prospects for a renewables revolution; right on schedule, Bloomberg reports, A Renewables Revolution Is Toppling the Dominance of Fossil Fuels in U.S. Power. It turns out that solar and wind accounted for two-thirds of the generation capacity added last year.

Now, that’s not enough: coal-fired generation is slowly being phased out, but the process needs to go much faster, and while replacement of coal with natural gas could in principle be a net positive — less carbon, more hydrogen — in practice the leaks associated with fracking make that highly doubtful.

But the point you should take is that really dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are well within reach, requiring only moderate incentives rather than a complete teardown of the existing system.

Yesterday’s second post was “Rubio For The Rich:”

Josh Barro notes that Marco Rubio’s proposal to eliminate taxes on capital gains goes well beyond anything we’ve seen from previous Republican contenders, even highly conservative candidates. It seems worth adding some numbers on just how much this would be a giveaway to the very, very rich.

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has the information, illustrated by the pie chart above. Half of taxes on dividends and long-term capital gains are paid, not by the 1 percent, but by the 0.1 percent — the richest 1/1000th of Americans. Another 29 percent are paid by the next 0.9 percent. Everyone else — the other 99 percent of the population — pays just 21 percent of the total.

So this is a tax cut not just for the rich, but for the very, very rich, with essentially nothing for the vast majority of Americans. And there is, as Barro says, absolutely no reason to believe that there would be large economic benefits from this giveaway.

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