Lots of folks think implementing a gas tax would be better than CAFE to help steer consumers toward buying more fuel efficient vehicles. This, in turn, could shrink our national clown-shoe carbon footprint, reduce pollution as well as give a boost to new technologies such as electric vehicles. So why did energy secretary Stephen Chu say that the tax option is off the table (despite previously favoring the concept)? It's thought to be too difficult to get through Congress. Not only would the average American consumer be opposed but lobby groups from myriad industries would quickly mobilize against such a measure.

Perhaps a teaspoon of rebate sugar would help the medicine go down? That's what Michael Levine and Mark Roe argue in a piece published in the Financial Times:

Consider first a textbook move to get the public to accept a costly change in policy: give voters their money back through another channel. If they got a tax credit or refund for the amount of the average voter's petrol usage, they would see that they were no worse off. They could keep the money and drive less or buy a more economical car.

Not a bad idea, right? They've even discussed similar ways of dealing with commercial concerns. While some people won't accept any plan with the word "tax" attached to it, perhaps just enough could be sold on the scheme if the pain was soothed with a bit of silver salve. While the authors single out energy companies as remaining contrary...wait a sec, who really cares what they think? What we care about is what you think so, let us know.

[Source: Financial Times]
Photo by rwkvisual. Licensed under Creative Commons license 2.0.

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