• Mar 18, 2009
Count General Motors' CEO Rick Wagoner as one proponent for a raise in the federal gas tax. While the idea seems like political suicide for any legislator willing to jump on board, hiking the gas tax up so that a gallon of gas hovers around the $4.00 mark could have a few desirable effects, notably influencing consumers to purchase fuel efficient vehicles and funding road improvement projects that are currently out of cash.

Last summer, when fuel prices were at their record peaks, interest in hybrid vehicles and smaller cars was also at an all-time high. With the introduction of the Chevy Volt tentatively scheduled for late 2010, perhaps it's not so surprising to hear that GM, once a major detractor of artificially high fuel prices, is now singing a new tune.

Still, it seems unlikely that the government would raise the gas tax in the midst of a recession. After all, it's much easier for legislators to direct a mandate at automakers to produce more fuel efficient vehicles without worrying about whether consumers will be motivated to buy them.

[Source: Washington Times, Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty]


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  • 64 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      "After all, it's much easier for legislators to direct a mandate at automakers to produce more fuel efficient vehicles without worrying about whether consumers will be motivated to buy them"

      *Claps*

      And hence the reason why I laugh whenever I see corrupt businessmen answering questions during a hearing on the Hill.

      The pot calling the kettle...
      • 5 Years Ago
      America needs to do something different. It seems the whole world hates us. Recent history shows an economic boom and bust cycle caused by the price of gas. When gas was cheap, the economy did extremely well. When the price of gas became expensive, the economy suffered. It is the rapid change that caused the economy to tank. It is also this rapid change that caused a temporary binge in the buying public’s desire for fuel efficient vehicles. The same thing happened in the early 1980’s.

      I propose we introduce a flexible fuel tax. The tax would regulate the price at the pump. Over a twenty year period, the price would rise to change driving habits. Automakers would finally be able to meet stringent regulations because they would know what the price of fuel will be in the future.

      The tax collected by the government would be invested in technology to build increasingly fuel efficient vehicles. This concept would be used for all fuel sources. Think of the possibilities. Electricity production would become more fuel efficient. Buildings would be converted to high efficient heating and cooling. New lighting technology would be developed. New jobs would be created to re-power America.

      This energy policy would create a natural desire for fuel efficiency for everything that is powered by an energy source. Both the production and the consumption of energy would naturally improve.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Oh? You have a 401k? 403b? Kid due to go to college? You'll want a 529 account.

      How about deducting donations? Have a mortgage?

      All these things come out of the US TAX CODE. All are intended to change behavior.

      401k/403b -> encouraging saving for retirement
      529 -> ditto for college

      Heck, part of the backlash against Obama's tax plan is that he wanted to reduce deductions for charity donations - something that they worried would reduce giving.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Above was aimed at Edmond Dantes (#29)
      • 5 Years Ago
      IDIOT, no wonder you have bankrupted GM. No American wants to be taxed.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Speak for yourself, fool. I pay taxes, and all I get for them are fairly competent teachers in competent schools, adequate water service, good fire & police protection, and whatever health associated from those benefits to post on this messageboard.

        I like paying taxes, and if you enjoy these things, so the hell should you.
      • 5 Years Ago
      @dukeisduke: Not everybody here can afford $20-30k for a new car (I know I can't). Our government needs to get off of its ass and encourage more domestic exploration and drilling, to keep gas prices low, to bridge us to fuel cell cars.

      ---------------------

      Funny, I thought conservatives didn't want the government doing things on their behalf. What a bunch of short-sighted whining. Buy a USED car with better mileage, dummy. Spend $15k or less on a nice motorcycle, $9k or less on a nice highway scoot, or spend as little as $300 on a nice, non-discount-toy bicycle that uses no fuel at all.

      Nobody's making you buy more gasoline, the entire point for everyone is to use less of it, period. Get off of YOUR ass and do something.

      • 5 Years Ago
      I liked the SNL skit, they really did hit the nail on the head when they had their Congress person state "We set higher mileage requirements, we did our part when are you going to do yours?"

      Sorry, but the only reason to set a floor price using taxes is to make local production of crude oil more viable thereby reducing our foreign dependence. You don't do it to get people to buy more efficient cars.

      That being said, any raise of fuel taxes would probably be laden with pay backs to people who don't drive let alone drive enough to deserve the offsets they would get as politicians would see a new income redistribution method instead of what it should be for - getting us off foreign oil.

      • 5 Years Ago
      GM's mainstream cars are a bunch of also-rans.

      A big fat gas tax to drive more of the market towards economy cars - you know, the segments Honda and Toyota kick their ass at - doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

      Is selling a Volt worth losing 5 Silverados and 3 Traverses?

        • 5 Years Ago
        Actually, Ford and GM are doing as well as Honda and Toyota in this regard. Consider the Malibu/Accord/Camry/Fusion. The Focus/Cobalt (vomit) also compete well against the Corolla/Civic in this regard (only).

        It's a lame excuse now to say they'd be throwing the market to the Japanese. Especially considering Nissan/Mitsu/Subie/Hyundai/Kia are below the Americans and Toyota/Honda regarding MPG.

        Chrysler? Well, they just need to go under already.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wagoner wants to stay on the bail out train. What an idiot!Sounds like the Tea Party is getting closer.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why is the CEO of one the most beleaguered auto companies advocating a tax increase now? Had he mentioned this a year ago he could've been seen as somewhat revolutionary, but now its ill-timed at best. The public message should be focused on the strides GM is making across the board to improve fuel economy, not attempting to get into the politics of taxation.
        • 5 Years Ago
        He did mention it a year ago. And before that. Lutz used to harp on this all the time.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Thanks for the heads up LS2, wasn't aware.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What he says makes sense, but no one wants to hear it. Also a flexible tax could keep the price constant even with fluctuations in price.

      $3 gas no matter the actual cost (assuming below $3) would be something that people would get used to real quick and still be able to fund the MPG improvements the government is trying to mandate (even though nothing makes people want those cars).
      • 5 Years Ago
      Rick Wagoner might have the right idea but for the wrong reasons. All he really cares about is selling us hybrids because that is what GM is producing now. If he had produced Hummers he would be asking for government subsidies for gas prices.


      • 5 Years Ago
      Um, yeeeaaah. Let's see, in many countries in Europe they have had KILLER fuel taxes for what? over 10 years? And what has that gotten them? Where's the 100MPG car? Where's the Electric cars? Fuel cell cars?

      Seriously, how much longer than 10 years does it take for this artificial price gouging produced by the world's governments need before a real change happens?

      It's all politics and has ZERO to do with science or economics.

      It's unbelievable how people are putting their head in the sand thinking we can afford this tax hike at such a low point in our economic history. Because everyone that will lose their job, and gets a new one working for $6 an hour less can somehow magically afford to SPEND MORE MONEY.

      BTW, guess everyone in the US missed the TRUCKER STRIKES all over europe last year because of GAS TAXES plus super high GAS PRICES making it impossible for truckers to make a living. Sure, let's import that to the US.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I for one appreciate the high taxes paid by Europeans. It causes them to drive smaller cars and conserve so there's more cheap gas for us in the US.

        Seriously, conserving benefits whom when we're (the world as a whole) not conserving?
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