• Dec 28, 2008
Can you hear that? Those are the war drums, and more and more of them are beating the same tune: bring on the gas tax. An editorial in The Gray Lady is the latest and arguably the weightiest to join the shock troops advocating for higher gas prices. The writer proposes a fluctuating consumption tax that would keep gas at least $4 per gallon in 2008 dollars, while an economist suggests a sliding tax on the price of a barrel of oil to achieve the same effect.
The NYT admits "a bitter recession is not the most opportune time to ratchet up the price of energy." But it balances that against the coming Obama administration's aims, the government's enviro-friendly suggestions to the U.S. auto industry, and Americans' claims to want to get off of foreign oil.

Although not mentioned specifically in the Times piece, some recommend a gas tax for a reason that has nothing to do with environmental stewardship: state governments need money. States are making enormous budget cuts, trying to sell and lease their lotteries, state parks, roads, bridges, and even their airports, and lining up for federal aid totaling hundreds of billions of dollars, and still saying they won't have enough money. The answer to "Will there be a gas tax?" could be, as Jesse Jackson once said, "The question is moot!" The question is not whether there will be a gas tax, but whether you will pay your additional taxes at the pump, at the toll booth, in your paycheck, etc...

[Source: New York Times]


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  • 58 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Just read all the comments and there is almost no mention of the TRILLIONS we are going to force our grandchildren to pay because we actually BELIEVE WE ARE ENTITLED TO SERVICES WE DON'T PAY FOR.
      DISGUSTING left wing NUT'S think some "other" taxpayer should fund roads they use but can't "afford"
      DISGUSTING rightwing NUTS THINK DEFICITS DON'T MATTER.
      You want POWER get OUT OF DEBT, only then can you tell debt holders how tough you are.
      TAX BAD STUFF, ENCOURAGE GOOD STUFF, BALANCE THE BUDGET.
      My granddaughter could do it
      • 6 Years Ago
      America should've done that years ago. How can you get rid of foreign oil if it is that cheap? Europe does better and this is one of the reasons, I'm pretty sure.
      • 6 Years Ago
      And the sky is blue
        • 6 Years Ago
        Its just simple economics that the number one way to decrease the demand for gasoline is to increase the price.

        So do we have a policy imperative to decrease demand for gasoline? I think so, and I don't even believe in man made climate change. I think we need energy security from a strategic standpoint, and sending hundreds of billions of dollars overseas every year to pay for energy to run our economy is not good for us in the long run.

        And I think that we should do it sooner rather than later, and we should commit and stick to it. We shouldnt lose the strategic benefits that we've gained from our period of extremely high gas prices to people who see the low prices and will now buy SUVs. The thing about gasoline demand is that it is very inelastic in the short run because people are stuck with the cars that they have for several years and the lifestyle they have around where they live for years. But in the long term, people can drastically reduce their demand for gasoline by living in more urban areas where they can walk and use mass transit, and by having smaller cars.

        Those changes take time and the gas taxes necessary to incentivize them are probably painful for millions of people. I say too bad. Its also painful to see these god damn saudis with their $200 million dollar houses and private 747s, all these terrorists with unlimited funding because of their rich friends, and all the pain that the US economy and household went through because this country has no policy mechanisms to decrease gasoline price fluctuations.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The taxes in place don't pay for the roads, bridges and public transportation projects we need to keep people moving which is part of the reason commute times have risen steadily since the 70's (that, and overpopulation and suburban sprawl). It is very simple. If you can't pay for what you need, then you either need to collect more revenue or provide less service.

      Since most taxpayers bitch about he traffic it seems the obvious choice is to raise the gas tax. Now is the time to do it since gas prices are very low. People won't bitch too much about it and we can temporarily reduce the tax if the prices get too out of whack in the future. I'm all in favor of increasing the gas tax by at least 10 cents a gallon. I can afford that and if I couldn't I would take the train more.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Eff 'em all. If this is the change we voted for, impeach the damned tax and spend liberals. Vote the rascals out....the new ones the first ones!

      • 6 Years Ago
      The current gas tax isn't enough? Cool...double it. The average person hasn't seen wages double since the 'freeze' in 1993, but hey, we won't quibble about the small stuff.

      But that's another 18 cents a gallon. A far cry from $1.80/gallon (or more!). That would be a half trillion dollar revenue stream for the government. I think we'd all want to see some real plans and commitments for that kind of money.

      Not to mention the minor detail that $4/gallon gasoline will pass an addition "tax" on to every American in the increased costs of goods and services. In other words, your payments won't just stop at the pump. And now that the free credit ride is over and money is not flowing as freely (and thereby covering up some of the pain of higher prices) the effects of $4/gallon gasoline will be even more spectacularly bad than a year ago.

      In other words...taxes like this lead straight to the dustbowl.
      • 6 Years Ago
      During the campaign Obama said he would not raise taxes on people making under $200k, so thats a good way to make sure he's a one term pres.
        • 6 Years Ago
        mmstowes-
        Since when is expecting a president to keep his campaign promisises a "wack-ass opinion" ? This tax has nothing to do with upkeep of roads, the present taxes already cover that expense by a wide margin. This is a tax to cover state budget shortfalls that are not road related. Gas taxes unfairly tax the poor and working class at a greater percentage than the rich.
      • 6 Years Ago
      It should not be an immediate increase, but gradual. Make it 25 or 30 cents every year, the problem with simply making it $4 overnight is the economic shock this causes--it simply doesn't allow people and businesses to adjust.

      Nevertheless, the gas tax (federal) should not be just 18 cents, a figure frozen since 1993, especially when the country depends on that tax for transportation infrastructure.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I dunno man, taxes are supposed to go down regardless of whether or not we can pay for a war, that's just the right way.

        [/sarcasm]
        • 6 Years Ago
        Zam,

        I'm glad you put in that sarcasm tag. Based on the way many commentators write around here, you could have been dead serious.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The 18c federal gas tax is so far past sufficient that 38% of it is spent on pork projects that aren't roads at all - billion dollar light rail that nobody rides, highway rest stop visitor centers, scenic overlooks, air quality studies, parking lots in the national parks, etc.

        If we are raising the gas tax to discourage foreign oil consumption that's a reasonable goal and I agree with it FWIW. But don't lie and pretend that it's an investment in infrastructure when it isn't.
        • 6 Years Ago
        NP man?
      • 6 Years Ago
      It's not just the Times, even the Weekly Standard is calling for a higher gas tax, coupled with a reduction in the payroll tax. I've been advocating this position to anyone who would listen for awhile now. It's time for the US to be proactive instead of waiting for more terrorists to attack us using our own oil dollars. How stupid are we exactly, continuously sending billions of dollars to countries that hate us?

      http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/015/949rsrgi.asp?pg=1
      • 6 Years Ago
      Your first point is a mistake. Fed gas taxes are not based on a percentage, though many State taxes are. Fed gas taxes are X per gallon, whether it's at $1.50 per gallon or $4.

      For your second point, there are alternatives available now, they're just don't save any money, they're more expensive. That's one of the areas that a gas tax would help. I think your logic is flawed for the research continuing with the cheap gas available. Cheap gas killed the EV1 and Honda's first hybrid - if it was $4 in the late '90's (and stayed there), we would be driving the EV5 right now.

      Sure, universities and the Green folks will keep researching (with millions $), but if you really want to get something done, watch what happens when the big companies (with billions $) smell profit.

      For anyone that knows me, I'm the last person they would suspect of endorsing more taxes. For me, the issue here is national security. I would rather my sons weren't asked to go off to war, thanks. Would you like to give terrorists a poke in the eye? Let's stop sending money to the middle east...

      • 6 Years Ago
      Fight wasteful spending and I am shoulder to shoulder with ya, tell your grandkids to pick up the bill is COWARDLY.
      So when ya kiss your kids goodnight just tell I don't like what the government is spending my money on so I decided to give you the bill-and oh yeah you also will get HAMMERED with my social security benefits the government spent and you still have to pay.
      So RIGHT NOW a baby born has about 50k of her parents debts + SS coming due.
      nite-nite sweetie

      • 6 Years Ago
      And the NYT is nearly broke....so we should listen to them. Does not make sense.
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