ENVIRONMENTALISTS who are worried about global warming should pay attention to the congressional debate about extending the home buyers tax credit. Federal tax policies toward housing have long encouraged Americans to emit more carbon. President Obama could do the country, and the planet, a service by either refusing to sign the extension of the $8,000 credit or by insisting that it be accompanied by offsetting reductions in the home mortgage interest deduction.
According to the Residential Energy Consumption Survey, per person energy use in owner-occupied housing is 39 percent higher than in rental units. Energy use, per household member, is 49 percent higher in single-family detached houses than in apartments in buildings with more than five units. These differences reflect the strong connection between home size and energy use. The average four-bedroom house consumes 72 percent more electricity than the average two-bedroom house.
Yet the tax code encourages Americans to live in big, energy-guzzling homes, instead of thrifty apartments, and Congress seems intent on further unbalancing the federal budget to egg on home buyers.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Home buyer tax credit = more global warming
According to Harvard economist Edward Glaeser, Congress and the White House are intent on harming the planet: