If the U.S. economy wasn't in shambles, renewing the federal excise tax on gasoline would be routine. But, as Congress intensely debated the national debt recently, the gas tax got moved to the back burner. This is a potential problem. With most of the 18.4-cent per gallon gasoline tax set to expire at the end of September, renewing it could spark political uproar and further divide Congress.
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.
For years, the federal gas tax has funded the development, repair and improvement of our nation's highways, but for the last few years, there has been an ongoing debate about whether it's a better idea to tax drivers based on the number of miles traveled or to continue taxing the purchase of fuel.
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 fu