A gas tax is about more than putting liquid into your tank and subtracting a higher amount from your bank account. A gas tax is -- just like CAFE and hybrids and $25 billion set aside to finance fuel efficient technologies -- about reworking and redefining our entire system of private transportation. And since that system is most certainly going to redefined, it is no surprise that the National Commission on Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing has recommended a jump in the federal fuel tax.

Congress created the commission to examine the federal taxes on fuel -- currently 18.4 cents for gas and 24 cents for diesel -- and the commission came back with the same results as everyone else: people are driving less, and driving more fuel efficient cars, and that has killed revenue for transportation infrastructure. One member of the commission said, "I'm not excited about a gas tax increase, but the reality is our current gas tax doesn't pay for upkeep of the system we have now. We can either let the roads go to hell or we can pay more." If the roads go to hell, though, guess what? We're going to pay more, but that money will go to service departments and auto parts stores.

The proposed solution is to make the gasoline fuel tax 24.4 cents, and the diesel tax between 36 and 39 cents. That would begin to make up for the $105 billion difference between actual revenues and the money needed to upkeep our roads and highways. It is conceivable that a higher gas tax could also encourage people to buy those high-mileage vehicles the government keeps commanding Detroit to make. But before that happens, it will probably just make a lot of people anguished and angry.

[Source: CNBC]