• Mar 18th 2009 at 12:39PM
  • 59
Slapping a few dimes' worth of tax onto each gallon of gas we buy at the pump hasn't been the most popular idea in Washington. Sure, some elected representatives have called for a higher gas tax in the past, but more often than not the idea dies on the vine. There is a chance that things will be different now that one of the biggest opponents to a gas tax increase, General Motors (through CEO Rick Wagoner), has given the idea a sort of blessing. Wagoner said yesterday that a federal gas tax that sets a price floor of $4 a gallon is "worthy of consideration." Something tells me that GM saw the interest in the Chevy Volt grow like mad during last year's gas price spike, and wouldn't mind a rise in gas prices before the Volt hits dealerships at the end of 2010. GM spokesman Greg Martin told the Washington Times that:
Everybody talks about $4 a gallon because, until gas prices hit $4, nobody saw any shift in consumer behavior. Only then did people put fuel efficiency front and center.

Since it'd be a bad idea to raise prices fast, talking about a higher gas tax now means there's plenty of time to reach $4 a gallon again before the Volt's real debut.

[Source: Washington Times]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      Finally here we go,

      If the CEO recognize that a gas tax is the right thing to do to end america addiction to oil and fight global warming, there should be some truth in it. Of course this tax should be made neutral by reducing income or even a tax credit for those who don't pay tax the first years this tax is applied.

      The gas tax is THE SOLUTION ans that's not new at all, american are only behind the rest of the world like in many other things by the way but it is never too late.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Polo, we didn't "try" anything. If you tried $4.00/ gallon, that's news to all of us. We were forced to buy $4.00/gallon. Last I read, skyrocketing mortgages was due to corrupt lending practices sold as investment with AAA ratings!
      "Us Republicans" never put our country in the deepest of deficits in the history of USA! Democrats are spending money recklessly to the point that our children aren't going to be able to afford to pay attention. Republicans put us in a $1 trillions deficit over a period of 8 years, two wars, and 9-11. Obama has spent $2 Trillion in 60 days of office and isn't stopping there! His approval rating is falling faster than two lead weights on a fishing line.
      Progressively taxing gasoline would help recover some of these excessive spending policies and provide for a more stable environment from terrorist. I'm sorry you can't adapt, maybe you need some stimulus money to carry you over? Since the govt has so much money to burn, I'm getting in line and quitting my job. Yahoo!
      • 8 Months Ago
      So this guy who can afford whatever he wants, new cars, $4/per gallon gas, etc thinks this is a good idea so people RUSH to buy a VOLT at a premium price so we can save his company? What about people who cant afford a $40K car or 4 dollar gas? I dont think ANYONE of these people would be in favor UNTIL GM and others can make the cars we WANT for prices people can afford.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Another self serving Jackass who can afford all the gas he wants throwing a another burden on the working poor, who really happening to be suffering now. I prefer raising the income tax on executives earning 7 figures to 99%, and denying all exemptions. That way when they steal from the shareholders, the government will steal it back from them. They can afford it!
      • 8 Months Ago
      Sebastian says: "There is a chance that things will be different now that one of the biggest opponents to a gas tax increase, General Motors..."

      What you talkin' 'bout Sebastian?!?!

      Bob Lutz said, waaaaaaaaay back in 2006, on his GM blog:

      "...if the U.S. government ever does what I’ve always said it should do if it wants to drive people toward more fuel-efficient vehicles, and that’s raise the gas tax gradually every year until it approaches European levels."


      "...you can’t legislate people’s vehicle choices through CAFE increases. As I’ve said before, that’s like trying to address the obesity problem in this country by forcing clothing manufacturers to sell smaller, tighter sizes."

      • 8 Months Ago
      I am all for a gasoline price floor.

      Consumers are driven by economics. They will consume as much fuel as they can afford, driving the biggest vehicle possible. If gas goes to $1/gallon and stays there, there isn't a hope in the world of fuel efficient vehicles surviving.

      GM didn't force any vehicles down anyone's throat. Consumers wanted big SUVs and GM provided them. The reason GM doesn't make a small diesel car is because consumers won't buy them in large numbers. Nor will they buy cars with manual transmissions.

      It would be nice if consumers used their environmental conscious when they decided their energy consumption, but the truth of the matter is they don't. They make their decisions based on economics.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Yes, screw the free market system. The Government should tell us how much to pay for our gas, while they are at it, tell us how much we should pay for corn, milk.....
      • 8 Months Ago
      Dubious theory. Arguments against price floors aside, surely he realizes a gas price floor of four dollars would put a 40K dollar car -further- out of most people's reach as they struggled to get by paying more for all the things that got more expensive as a result of four dollar a gallon gas.

      But I guess he'd just push for more government assistance in buying their Volts, since GM is so firmly attached to the government teat now anyway.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Wrong! Not all efficient cars cost $40k. There are used cars, and small efficient cars. The smart car is certainly more efficient than an SUV, and it's nowhere near $40k. The Scion Xa used doesn't cost very much. It gets 40mpg, about 2.5 times what an SUV gets, effectively cutting your gasoline cost by that much.
      • 8 Months Ago
      I propose an "adjustable tax", have a government agency monitor the pricing of oil and fuels, and on a weekly basis adjust the tax rate up or down to help compensate for price swings. If the price of gasoline goes down, the tax rate can be increased to encourage continued conservation and discourage inefficiency and waste. If the price of gasoline rises, the tax rate could be reduced to reduce the economic burden.

      It would not be a "price floor", individual stations could have different pricing and could stll reduce their price if desired, the tax rate would be the same for all. But it would help stabilize prices and reduce wild price swings and stifle speculation, that will certainly help.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Come on - we have gas price in Europe on $6-7 per gallon level. That's why small cars sell so well and somehow we live that way for long long time and turns out that even small cars can be safe with the latest designs (look at toyota iQ with 5 stars in Euro NCAP). I hope that high gas price will force EV's on the streets (like it happens here in London). We have technology for some time that can make us independent of the oil and driving will become very cheap again. EV means freedom as you can charge your car with solar panels on your own.
      • 8 Months Ago
      I think a more appropriate title would be 'Is anything GM's Wagoner says, "worth considering"?' I guess if he said the oil company CEOs beat him senseless for releasing such a successful EV, I would believe him. But other than that, not a word.

      The very idea of a tax floor to keep gasoline at $4/gal is insane. It didn't seem to need a floor to get it to $4 before, and I'm sure it will get back to $4 soon enough to suite the morons out there who seem to enjoy paying more for EVERYTHING! And what happens when gas goes to $5/gal. Do we raise the floor? Do you see how lame this idea is? How about a law that incarcerates the people responsible for price gouging, like after Katrina. Don't you people realize the royalty checks on oil wells in Texas doubled the following month? Don't you find it interesting that a industry could sustain "damage" and 200% profit at the same time. And you can't blame that one on OPEC!

      What we need is more intelligent people, like my grandfather. He ordered his truck from the factory with a straight 6 instead of the standard V8 so he would get better mileage. This was in 1963! I keep my 1986 Ford Ranger because it gets 12.5% better mileage than a comparable 2008 Ford Ranger. It is a little rusty though.

      What we need are more choices, like EVs FFVs and hybrids. We need to be able to choose whether we want our farmers to fuel our cars, or PV cells, or the coal fired steam plant, or used cooking oil, or hydrogen, or even gasoline, diesel, propane, natural gas, pedals or compressed air. There is not one solution that is good for everyone. But for the past century we have had no choice whatsoever, and that is the problem today.

      • 8 Months Ago
      It's probably easier to convert an oil-powered power plant to something else rather than converting the entire vehicle fleet and ask the consumers to pay for new cars.
      This is what the politicians should spend their time working on.

      I believe the focus on the oil consumption in our vehicles is a bit unfair. Wouldn't it be better to focus on reducing the need in non-mobile facilities, like producing electricity by burning oil, like the power plants here in Malta does.

      With todays inadequate battery technology, the liquid fuel containers (petrol, ethanol, diesel, gas and even hydrogen) are the best for mobile units like cars, boats, airplanes.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Another thing on the same topic is that oil is also used to producing plastics and fertilizers etc.

        My point is that oil is used in many applications and I believe the using oil to run vehicles is one of the better ways of using oil. Using less oil is of course better.
        Europe is probably more fuel efficient when it comes to transportation than US, but we also use oil to warm our houses and to produce electricity.

        Another interesting topic is that refining crude oil will not only produce the product you want only but the whole range from gas to petrol to diesel to lubricants to bitumen (asphalt). This means that the product with most demand will subsidise the other ones. This is why it's important to look at the whole spectra of oil consumption and not focus on transportation fuels only..
        • 8 Months Ago
        Kalle, only 3% of our electricity comes from oil. That's one of Jimmy Carter's few successes; it was 17% when he came in. (The slack has been taken up by nuclear thanks to a law he championed.)

        As for plastics; most modern plastics are made from polyethylene or polypropylene; and either can be made from dimethyl ether (DME) rather than petroleum. Two interesting things about DME:

        1: it is an excellent, clean burning diesel fuel (NO particulates compared with "biodiesel" spewing 80% of petrodiesel's level);

        2: it is made by reacting methanol to itself; and methanol can be made from coal, natural gas, or any biomass without exception (including crop residues, weeds, trash, even sewage).

        That's a major reason why any flex fuel mandate has to include methanol too and not just ethanol so as to build up the methanol industry to enable us to use DME for our diesel fuel and plastics base.
        • 8 Months Ago
        I don't know about Malta (never been there), but here in the US, the only "oil powered" electricity is for portable power, emergency backup power, and a few diesel "peaker power" plants. The biggest consumption of oil, by far, is for transportation.

        Electricity generation is relatively clean, and getting cleaner as more renewable sources come online.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Innadequate battery technology? I beg to differ. It's good enough, it's just too expensive.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Flex fuel vehicles, what a joke. 80% or more of so called Flex fuel vehicles never see one drop of flex fuels. It is a thing GM does to get tax subsidies. If it was mandatory that flex fuels vehicles could only use flex fuel there would be 95% less flex fuel vehicles on the road.

      Electrical transportation on our roads has been kept from the public by the interests of a few. The same few who purchased all the electric trolly cars in the 1930's in NY and then junked them (thanks GM). The same few who purchase battery patents and then set them on a shelf so they cannot be used (thank you Chevron). The same few who say let Wall Street invest in alternatives to transportation we will lower the price of fuel and crush those investments. (Thanks OPEC)

      The only reason GM is not on the same side of the oil companies as usual is that they are near bankruptcy and necessity is the motherhood of invention. Wagner is talking out one side of his mouth about a floor on gas prices, mean while advertising big SUV's and trucks as the price for fuel is so low.

      Toyota is just as bad. Dragging there feet to produce a plug in hybrid. They won't introduce it until just before the Volt comes out. Any thing to make or get money just like a majority of our politicians. Does any one do what is right anymore.

      I am so happy to have an alternative to the status quo brain washing and to get out from under the fat cats who make money out of constantly doing the wrong thing. I voted with my wallet and purchased a 41,020 electric vehical that goes over a hundred miles to a charge. This vehical will do 98% of all my driving. No it is not the status symbol of a Corvette or Cadillac. That is all brainwashing by car manufacturers, from a young age we are taught that we have reached a pinnacle in our lives because we can now afford a Cadilac. The more money one has the more the brain washing takes hold. See my vehicle at http://www.evalbum.com/1892
        • 8 Months Ago

        Guess I should appreciate the idea of using alternative fuel. Is the flex fuel the same as ethanol? If it is you will have a hard time selling me on the idea. This is very debatable. Yes jobs stay here to produce it but it takes as much fuel to make it as it produces at least out of corn. Fuel, water,fertilizer. If they can find a more inexpensive way to make it then I would think it would have some application in larger vehicles. Maybe algae?

        Speaking of infrastructures. The grid can support millions of EV's now. I am all for getting away from the ICE vehicles now. Two many moving parts, too much maintenance. On a best case scenario it will go one quarter of the miles a electric engine will go. Not to mention when braking with regenerative brakes the kinetic energy is not wasted as in a ICE.

        Imagine if millions of dollars were spent on batteries and EV innovation as have been spent on ICE over the last 20 years.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Ray, you're right that many FFV's run on gasoline only. That is both good and bad news.

        Good news because it shows that, UNIQUELY among alt-fuel vehicles, FFV's are ready and practical NOW and do not have to wait for a whole new infrastructure to be useful. This makes the transition much easier than it would be for, say, CNG or electric cars.

        To the extent that it's bad news, that can be remedied by making flex fuel a standard feature in all cars, like seat belts. You can't expect alcohol fuel to be readily available when only 3% of cars on the road are FFV's (still several times higher than hybrid marketshare let alone EV's). But if all new cars going forward are FFV's, then each year the percentage of cars being driven that are alcohol compatible goes up sharply. Marry that with a gas price floor above alcohol's price and you break the oil cartel as market demand causes a widespread shift away from petroleum.
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