A few Republicans start talking carbon tax

While their counterparts in Australia are having nothing to do with it, some wonkish types in the Republican Party are floating the idea of a carbon tax.

Former U.S. Representative Bob Inglis told CNN Money that a carbon tax—as long as it is revenue neutral—is superior to a tax on income or investment.

"Well, the very important thing we are talking about is a revenue neutral tax swap where you change what you tax," said Inglis.

"Reduce taxes on some form of income and shift the tax onto pollution, so it is a matter of changing what you tax [and] not increasing the size of government. Those of us who are conservatives who are after this thing really believe it is important to not improve the size of government."

Inglis conceded that the tax could fall hard on some regions.

"If you are in Indiana it could be substantial, if you are in South Carolina it could be smaller . . . the main point that we need to get across to have discussion is, unless you believe there is such a thing as a free lunch, we should understand is we already paying the full cost of coal fired electricity—we just don’t pay at the meter or at the pump in the case of petroleum.

"For example you pay in your higher health insurance premiums, you pay through Medicare and Medicaid taxes, cost shift at the hospital for those that are affected by the soot out of coal fired electrical plants."

Inglis lost his seat in a Republican primary in June 2010 when Trey Gowdy ran to the right of Inglis and defeated him in a landslide.