Ron Paul, Energy Slayer or Tax Warrior?

As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Ron Paul has been a cosponsor of legislation to offer tax deductions for commuters who use their bike or take public transportation to get to work. He is also cosponsor of a bill to increase and extend deductions for buildings that use less energy.

But his support for these measures is more likely about reducing the federal tax burden, rather than an attempt to cut energy use in cities and the nation. As a self-identifying libertarian, he may personally see the need to for a reduction in energy use, but he doesn’t view it as the government’s role to try and achieve this.

So perhaps more revealing than these individual tax reductions is his support for the elimination of the IRS altogether.

He told City Hall News that he’s never been on the subway because it would violate his principles. And while rides a bicycle, it has nothing to do with using less energy. (Read this Grist interview for his wider views on the environment.)

As president, Paul would also severely reduce the size of the U.S. Department of Transportation, although he would not eliminate it, as some on the web have discussed. “It’s way at the bottom of his list of priorities, but the size of the department would be greatly reduced,” a campaign aide told me. “And whatever taxes are cut as a result would be given back to the states.”

So no, there wouldn’t be federal incentives or mandates to reduce energy use in cities in a Paul Administration. No funds for congestion pricing or efficiency standards for buildings. But states and municipalities would be free to do so, his aides say, and they could use the windfall from a reduction in federal taxes for that purpose if they see fit.

Tags: 2008 presidential election