With the federal deficit balooning out of control, President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform has publicized its preliminary proposals, and goodness are there a lot of them. But only one of the commission’s proposals gets to the heart of this nation’s automotive future: a proposal to increase America’s gas tax. Federal fuel taxes currently stand at 18.4 cents a gallon for gasoline and 24.4 cents for diesel fuel, but the commission has proposed a 15 cent per gallon increase, to take effect starting in 2013.
According to CNN
Gas taxes would rise by one cent every three months beginning in January 2013, until the 15 cent increase has been reached… The proposal calls for the funds to be “dedicated toward fully funding the transportation trust funds and therefore eliminating the need for further general fund bailouts.”
It’s not immediately clear how much money this tax increase might raise, but the overall proposal would cut as much as $4 trillion from the federal debt. And with transportation trust funds draining the general fund, a gas tax hike has been tossed around for some time. And as unpopular as tax increases are, better a gas tax than Transportation Secretary Ray LaHoods preferred alternative: a pay-per-mile scheme that would require GPS tracking of every vehicle in America. Besides, a gas tax increase will make those ramped-up CAFE standards far less onerous by shifting market demand towards more-efficient vehicles. Congress-watchers reckon that a gas tax hike is unlikely to happen in the recently-elected, more-conservative congress. Down the road, though, it’s hard to see this proposal not coming back up at some point.
Would you support a gas tax hike? Would a 15 cent increase in the price of gas have a real impact on your lifestyle? Would it change your car-buying decisions? Or should the gas tax be a political sacred cow?