Yup, it’s deja vu all over again, as New York Times star columnist and flat earther Thomas L. Friedman once again echoes the Gray Lady’s conviction that a federal gas tax is a good thing. No surprise there. In case you didn’t realize it, Friedman has no problem telling people what to do with their national economies. In fact, it’s clear he feels what was once called noblesse oblige. “I’ve wracked my brain trying to think of ways to retool America around clean-power technologies without a price signal — i.e., a tax — and there are no effective ones. (Toughening energy-effiency [sic] regulations alone won’t do it.) Without a higher gas tax or carbon tax, Obama will lack the leverage to drive critical pieces of his foreign and domestic agendas.” You want him to tax that gas. You need him to tax that gas. “Today’s financial crisis is Obama’s 9/11. The public is ready to be mobilized. Obama is coming in with enormous popularity. This is his best window of opportunity to impose a gas tax. And he could make it painless: offset the gas tax by lowering payroll taxes, or phase it in over two years at 10 cents a month.” And then Tom trots out the “H” word, and you just know someone somewhere is gonna pay.
“It makes no sense for Congress to pump $13.4 billion into bailing out Detroit — and demand that the auto companies use this cash to make more fuel-efficient cars — and then do nothing to shape consumer behavior with a gas tax so more Americans will want to buy those cars. As long as gas is cheap, people will go out and buy used S.U.V.’s and Hummers.”
OH NO! NOT THAT! NOT A HUMMER! Anyway, a gas tax is the answer to, well, everything.
“A gas tax reduces gasoline demand and keeps dollars in America, dries up funding for terrorists and reduces the clout of Iran and Russia at a time when Obama will be looking for greater leverage against petro-dictatorships. It reduces our current account deficit, which strengthens the dollar. It reduces U.S. carbon emissions driving climate change, which means more global respect for America. And it increases the incentives for U.S. innovation on clean cars and clean-tech.
“Which one of these things wouldn’t we want? A gasoline tax ‘is not just win-win; it’s win, win, win, win, win,’ says the Johns Hopkins author and foreign policy specialist Michael Mandelbaum. “A gasoline tax would do more for American prosperity and strength than any other measure Obama could propose.”