By on November 12, 2010

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?

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113 Comments on “Ask The Best And Brightest: Gas Tax?...”


  • avatar
    stryker1

    Only if the money were strictly dedicated to paying down the debt, and it sunsetted once that occurred.

    • 0 avatar
      charly

      The USA is more than 200 years old and IIRC it never paid off all its debt so IMHO sunsetting will happen after all cars are fusion powered anyway

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Actually, I believe a little bit after the Civil war the US had no debt.  In recent history, no, we haven’t even been close.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Charly,
       
      The debt got all the way down to $33,733.05 in 1835 under the Jackson administration.*  However, the depression of 1837 to 1844 hit two years later and that was the end of that.
       
      * Due to the normal ed and flow of tax collection it is likely the debt fell to zero for at least some portion of 1835.
       
       
      http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/histdebt/histdebt_histo1.htm
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Actually, I believe a little bit after the Civil war the US had no debt.
      Sorry, the Civil War was expensive! In 1860 debt stood at $64,842,287.88 by the end of the war it was $2,680,647,869.74.   At no point in the remaining 19th century did the debt ever fall below $1.5 billion.

      http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/histdebt/histdebt_histo2.htm

    • 0 avatar
      Joshua Johnson

      At no point in the remaining 19th century did the debt ever fall below $1.5 billion.
      True.  However, what most people seem to forget, is that it is not so much how much debt the country has, but the percentage of debt to GDP.  While debt remained proximate to $1.5B during that period, GDP (unadjusted) rose from about $7.5B after the Civil War to about $20B in 1900; as such, debt/GDP fell from about 32.5% after the war to 10% in 1900.
      Five minutes with Excel and these two websites creates an interesting picture of 1791-2009:
      http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/histdebt/histdebt.htm
      http://measuringworth.com/usgdp/
       
       

  • avatar
    mcr4125

    Would have no effect whatsoever on my lifestyle.  Quick hand calc, I would pay approximately $5-$10 extra per month on gas.  No big deal.
    But I don’t see this happening.  Fuel taxes would be labelled “regressive” and the left wing would pitch a fit;  similarly the right wing “no taxation” groups would go nuts.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Except everything that requires fuel to be transported to you will also go up in price.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      They won’t be “labelled” regressive. They will actually BE regressive. Sorry if that offends you.
       
      I wonder how much the USA could get from a garage sale unloading a few unnecessary Aircraft Carriers.

    • 0 avatar
      Chicago Dude

      Except everything that requires fuel to be transported to you will also go up in price.
       
      There are still plenty of ways to reduce the cost of distribution and raising the cost of fuel will make even more alternatives economically viable.

    • 0 avatar
      sitting@home

      “I wonder how much the USA could get from a garage sale unloading a few unnecessary Aircraft Carriers.”
       
      Don’t be silly, those aircraft carriers are required to keep the cost of gas down; how else can we intimidate all the tin-pot regimes sitting on top of OUR oil ?

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    I will not vote for any shititions that raise taxes.
    Expenses need to be reduced.
    You cannot ask a pig to eat less, you reduce the feed in the trough.

  • avatar
    Cammy Corrigan

    This is exactly how I feel about Petrol prices
     
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2AWCdlYH6s
     
    And I live in the UK, where petrol prices are high and I think we should still be taxed higher.
     
    Mind you, the only drawback to higher petrol prices is that the cost of EVERYTHING will go up. So, while you think it may cost you an extra £5 to £10 in petrol, it’ll also cost you more for food, clothes, electricity, gas, water, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      Cammy…do you suffer from guilt?

      Are you Catholic? 

      Do you really feel that by punishing yourself, the world will be a better place?
      That the bad guys will be good IF you just would be a nicer person?

      Do you feel that if you paid more and more in taxes, the government would be better run and all debt would vanish?
      If you give more money, the goofy spending by government fat cats will be struck by the wisdom stick and wisely spend your gifts?

      OMG!

    • 0 avatar
      1996MEdition

      No on is stopping you from pulling out your checkbook and mailing some extra cash to the government since you feel so guilty……go on…..do it voluntarily so I won’t have to.

  • avatar
    dwford

    $.15 will have no effect on anyone. People have already gotten used to $3.00 gas and are back to driving at 80mph. I support raising the gas tax. It needs to go up $.10 per year for the next 10 years and get rid of the CAFE rules at the same time. Let people pay to drive gas guzzling machines. Some will, most won’t, but at least the market won’t be distorted by CAFE rules forcing the manufacturers to build cars people don’t want to buy.

    • 0 avatar
      V572625694

      Not only that, but the best-selling vehicles are still pickup trucks. People can start driving less, or slower, as soon as the tax goes up. But that 10-mpg crew cab F-150′s going to be there in the driveway until 60 payments are done.

    • 0 avatar
      Neb

      Excellent point regarding CAFE. An increase in the gas tax would fulfil the same function as CAFE, and it would ignore the now arbitrary distinction between cars and trucks. Even better, it would be a market based force, so people could actually choose to drive a guzzler if they were willing to pay the price. It would have another effect, as well: it would protect America from future energy shocks, since if the economy is already used to high energy prices, then it doesn’t matter so much if energy prices fluctuate. During the previous energy spike, Europe suffered little economic pain, while the USA reeled under the strain.
       
      I’m sympathetic to the people in this thread who want to put rules about how the new tax money is spent. Me personally, I think I’d want a percentage going to fund new public transit, since in the USA all those systems are horribly atrophied. The rest could go to the deficit, eduction, etc, whatever makes people happy.

    • 0 avatar
      snabster

      Agreed.  One time increase isn’t going to change much behavior.  Gas has gone up 20 cents in the last week and I don’t see the world collapsing.
       
      I’d argue for a 4-6 year incremental increase;  target price of about $5 a gallon.
      I’ve seen studies that suggest optimal tax is about $1 a gallon;  throw in federal, state and local and we’re almost there.
      However given our trade deficit, we should aim a bit higher and reduce that amount.  ANd yes, we need offshore drilling in the US.

  • avatar
    ash78

    I could support this with a few caveats:
     
    1. Subsidies or credit for people who have to drive for a living (say, beyond a certain threshold for business purposes).
    2. No additional taxes on diesel fuel. I don’t want the cost of EVERYTHING to go up
     
    From a personal driving/planning POV, I could totally support this modest change (and it might actually reduce my driving), but only if they continue to use it for transportation purposes ONLY.

    However, I remember when gas hit $4/gallon, and the stats showed that the most affected people were low-income rural workers. Maybe they should get a partial subsidy, as well, assuming we can identify them.

    • 0 avatar
      carlisimo

      Subsidies like the one that allowed people to buy large SUVs and write them off as business expenses?  No thanks!
      Some prices will go up.  Some industries will find that a Ford Transit works just as well as an F-250.  Any attempt to reduce the deficit will flounder the moment we start saying, “No, we can’t punish this particular demographic, let’s write them out of the shared suffering.”

    • 0 avatar
      Albino Digits

      I agree. No additional tax on diesel to keep the cost of goods down. I doubt any gas tax will pass in the next decade though.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    OK.
    Anybody wanna bet that of all the key points, the TAX INCREASE is the one that gets through.
    Not the cutting of spending, but another new way to increase government income.
    Not the subsidies.
    Not the wages.
    Not the growth.

    There are already TONS of additional taxes other than the federal gas tax.
    Anybody here live in Cook County, IL???
    You tell me how much of the gas cost is taxation.
    It ain’t no 18 percent!

    • 0 avatar
      Chicago Dude

      I live in Cook County.  I have no idea how much of the cost of gas is taxes.  Probably a lot.  In the City of Chicago, gas is about 10-15 cents more expensive per gallon than the surrounding suburbs and maybe 20 cents a gallon more than in neighboring Indiana.
      Guess what?  You deserve it if you drive around Chicago so much that gas is a significant part of your monthly costs and you never venture into the suburbs where you can buy cheaper gas.  That is exactly the point of high gas taxes – to discourage idiotic behavior.
      PS – the cost of food at my local grocery store is exactly the same in the city (with higher gas taxes) as in the suburbs (with lower gas taxes).  I guess a high gas tax doesn’t necessarily translate into higher prices…

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      chicago dude

      I don’t know if you understand it or not, but you made my point brilliantly.

      You example of food cost in you store vs. suburban is to be a gentle as possible, narrow.

    • 0 avatar
      darkwing

      Silly me — I thought taxes were meant to fund government in an equitable way, not discourage behavior that you personally don’t like.
      To me, driving all the way out into the suburbs just to save $2 on gas is idiotic behavior — but maybe you just have much more free time than I do.

  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    Making fuel more expensive is the flip side of making the engine(via CAFE) more expensive. Both are distortions on what people would buy if there were no CAFE rules and the only tax on gas was the regular state sales tax like most other products.
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      random1

      It’ll only reduce the already existing distortion.  Gas tax should cover everything transportation-related.  For instance, road building and maintenance, secondary costs of pollution, the massive federal outlay on military related to maintaining steady access to oil, etc.

      Right now, almost all those costs come out of the general fund, or other private and public sources.

      The consequence of cheap oil is that we use more of it than makes economic sense.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Here in Ontario its at 1.09 a litre..roughly 4.10 a US Gallon. I see lots of Yukons, and Motor homes, and 5th wheel trailers. We drive our four laners at 75 – 80 mph.

    My guess?….If the US Government tacks 15 cents on, , within 6 monthe you will never know the difference.

  • avatar
    jaje

    The gas tax is really our best construct to encourage people to drive fuel efficient cars (CAFE sucks and doesn’t work).  It makes those who drive gas guzzlers pay more for fuel (creating the incentive to buy more fuel efficient and greener transportation) and create more wear and tear on roads (a 6k lb 12 mpg SUV tears up the road more than a 3k lb 35mpg small car does).
     
    The point of this poll is to use the funds to pay down our deficit.  If (and my eyes are rolling) we use these funds to help pay down our deficit it will be much more than the money raised as by now hurting pocket books of gas guzzlers they will migrate to more fuel efficient cars / trucks decreasing our need for foreign oil (this reduces the demand and increases the funds to pay off the debt).

  • avatar
    Steinweg

    I’ll out myself as not living in the US just now, but in another industrialized decadent western nation, so I’m already well familiar with expensive fuel and tax in the vicinity of 50% of the pump price. But ya, gas should be expensive; oil should be expensive; it’s incredibly useful, there’s a fixed quantity of it; and consuming it too quickly spells trouble for future generations of Earth inhabitants. If it isn’t expensive, what incentive does anyone have not to use it like it’s going out of style? In the long run, I want there to be some oil left over so I can fire up my classic from time to time, so an overall curtailment of demand is in order and jacking the price up fits the bill. No other way how will Mr. and Mrs. Suburban Appliance Driver – who don’t give a flying fig about cars – switch to more efficient cars.

    • 0 avatar
      ash78

      The problem with that argument is “why not tax everything that’s potentially harmful until it reaches some arbitrary price that the bureaucrats deem acceptable?”

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      As long as we don’t artificially monkey with the price (up or down) when it starts to run out it’ll get more expensive.  That’s a natural side effect of a restricted supply of handy things; and that’s what gives Mr and Mrs Suburban appliance the motivation to switch to more efficient alternatives.
       
      If it’s incredibly useful and surprisingly inexpensive then it is probably also abundant and readily accessible.  If it starts getting scarce it’ll get expensive all by itself.  No reason to hurry the process along in the meantime.

  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    Realize that the ’15 cents you won’t even notice’ would have been spent on other products, saved or invested if the gas tax increase does not pass.
     
    You can’t tout big revenue realizations from this increase and not admit that the exact same amount of money will be diverted from other consumption activities.

    • 0 avatar
      Mike999

      You should be sending your argument to Exxon, Chevron, etc.
      They jack up prices any time they choose.  I’d rather see the revenue go to RESTORING America, then to companies bent on destroying our Democracy.
       

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Is it correct that the gas tax is not adjusted for inflation?  It has been the same since who knows when?  that seems rather absurd to me actually.  I’m pretty much against taxes, especially when I feel the government has plenty of cutting to do before it starts telling people we need to raise taxes further.  But many of our roads and bridges are in rough shape, and if the tax can’t cover it, then it needs to go up.  I can live with that.  Especially if it hasn’t been upped in a decade or more.
     
    I can’t accept skimming it off for other purposes.  For roads, potholes, etc.  That’s it.  But lets get our roads up to world standards.  None of this cheap fix, pothole patching garbage.
     
    For some reason though, the gas tax seems to be among the most unpopular on earth.  Not sure why.  Really, as others have mentioned, its pretty minuscule.  Yet propose it and you’ll be tossed from office.  Remember how much traction that “gas tax holiday” got during the presidential campaign?  It was peanuts to most people’s pockets.
     
    At the end of the day, the gov must just use what it has more wisely.  I hate to say it, but if they’re gonna keep spending, I’d rather we pay for it now than get caught in this debt spiral.  If they just can’t cut (seems they can’t) then lets just get the tax on and get it over with.  Using the credit card is the worst option.  Unfortunately, higher taxes will probably just result in higher spending…

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      I’m a huge supporter of people paying their own way.  Making drivers pay for roads and bridges makes all the sense in the world.
       
      And the existing federal gas tax could cover all that and then some if it were actually spent on roads and bridges.   The last $287 billion dollar federal highway bill included 25 billion dollars in more than 6,000 local earmarks, an alternative fuels jackpot that included paying paper companies 1.5 billion dollars a year to burning waste pulp – which they have done anyway since the 1930s -, 60 billion dollars for various urban public transportation projects, and so forth.
       
      The 70 cents on the dollar that goes to building an actual road or bridge is almost invariably megaprojects in politically connected districts.  The most expensive road project in US history is the big dig in Boston, which was just coincidentally the home of the then speaker of the house Tip O’Neill – the I-93 tunnel is literally the Thomas P O’Neill Tunnel – and 40 years of seniority in Senator Chappaquiddick.
       
      The irresponsibility they have shown with the money we’ve already given them doesn’t suggest the thing to do is give them more.
       

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    My primary questions about this gas tax proposal are:

    -  Why so little?
    -  Why wait so long?

  • avatar
    chuckR

    Let’s apply this argument to all government functions. For example, welfare payments should be taxed until they are self-funding. /sarc
    I agree with trailertrash. The more that essential services, like road building and maintenance, can be hived off into separate pay-as-you-go fees, the more spending can be done in other areas, mostly entitlements and nanny state oversight of dubious to downright negative benefit.
    Also, may I be the first to propose a cap n’ trade on regulation-writing by unelected and unaccountable faceless DC bureaucrats? No more regulations unless the generating agency is ready to give up an existing one of similar impact on society.  A small study documenting the equivalence, say no bigger than the unread ObamaCare bill, should be used as a justification. Muitiple regulations can be surrendered if no one single one can be justified for the new desired regulation.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    Well, apart from the general 25% VAT on everything in Norway, there’s also about 50-60% on gasoline (for environmental excuses), gasoline that’s sold to us by companies partially owned by the Norwegian government (I admit socialism can be a slight pain in the rear sometimes) so the total is around 80% on gas.  I normally pay just over 2$ for every liter of gas. (That’s 8 bucks a gallon) I still love gas guzzling old cars, and I don’t really care. The gas costs are still not any problem to me (even if it seems to be to alot of people buying brand new 150k cars with Tdi engines that do 45mpg) I still probably use less on gas in a year than they spend on depreciation alone…

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    I remember Ross Perot of all people proposed increasing gas taxes when he ran for President in 1992.  Of course, he could afford to pay for it.  That said, I think it’s a good idea if the law stipulates it can only go to the transportation fund.  If it decreases gas usage, that’s a good thing.  Less money for your street corner Wahabbi collection box.

    • 0 avatar
      Neb

      It is worth saying that by not taxing gasoline like the rest of the western nations, the USA has less avoided paying taxes on fuel then paying those taxes to foreigners instead of the government.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    a gas tax is a no-brainer. Every time CAFE goes up, people get a tax cut on gas. Every car I have bought has been a little more efficient than the one it replaced. Sometimes, like with my old TDI/POS, the gov’t actually paid me $1300 to buy it, so i was actually getting paid to take a tax cut. 

    HOWEVER, as cars like the Volt and the Leaf become more and more common place, a miles travelled tax has to follow it. you can’t pay for roads by taxing a fuel people don’t use. Get used to having an E-ZPass style transponder in your car.

    I know there are a lot electric car nay-sayers out there, but unlike a lot of them, I’m old enough to remember what a cordless drill was 20 years ago when an impotent Makita 9.6v drill sat in my basement while I kept a corded Milwaukee Holeshooter in my toolbox.  Now just 20 years later, I have an 18v DeWalt in the toolbox and the holseshooter sits in the basement.

    I lookat a Leaf and ponder how it kinda looks like that old Makita…

  • avatar
    MattPete

    Wimps.  I would have proposed raising it by at least $1/gal.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      +1

    • 0 avatar
      Groove

      +1

    • 0 avatar
      ChevyIIfan

      -1

    • 0 avatar
      protomech

      +1. Phase it in so people can plan accordingly.
       
      http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/04/business/04bptax.html
      “Oil industry officials say that the tax breaks, which average about $4 billion a year according to various government reports, are a bargain for taxpayers.”

      We’re currently collecting about $30 billion per year in federal fuel taxes. Maybe the subsidies should be ended; it makes little sense to take with one hand and give back to the oil companies with the other.

      How much do we spend on “defense” that is in fact maneuvering to retain access to oil? I doubt a dollar figure can ever be put to that .. but that’s going to come increasingly into play as oil production starts to taper off.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    I don’t think 1 cent incremental tax increases in the cost of gas are going to be noticed by anyone.
    What is noticed by the masses are the massive price spikes which are brought on by scumbag investment banks *Cough* Goldman Sachs *Cough* fueling manic trading in oil futures.
    It was their forecasts and predictions that ‘oil prices will rise’ combined with conning thousands of investors to invest which rapidly forced the price of crude up and consequently gas. When this bubble burst in late 2008, Goldman Sachs had already made a pretty penny whilst the market was high… and oh look! Here it comes again!
    http://www.liveoilprices.co.uk/oil/oil_prices/11/2010/goldman-sachs-forecast-big-rise-in-oil-prices-for-2012.html

  • avatar
    vvk

    15 cents is not enough but it’s a start. I would prefer $10/gal.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I’m against gas taxes; the ones we have already comprise a high fraction of overall fuel prices.
     
    But hey, whatever it takes to make the Volt more competitive.

  • avatar
    stuart

    Sure, whatever.

    Of course, everyone’s answer is predicated by how much they spend on fuel. Cabdrivers and folks that drive for a living will generally be opposed. Wage slaves with short commutes (myself included) will be fine with it.

    If it reaches the serious discussion stage in Washington D.C., you can bet the opposed camp will trot out a photogenic “Joe the Plumber” equivalent (“Carl the Cabbie” ?) to explain why the new tax will be devastating, and the discussion will go nowhere…

    “If you want to tax somebody else, sure go ahead!”

    stuart

  • avatar
    Darth Lefty

    This is peanuts.

  • avatar
    carguy

    The US has an ever increasing structural deficit which is being driven by entitlements and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The choice is to either cut those programs or collect more revenue. Some will try to tell you that all we need is to end earmarks and all will be well but those are peanuts compared to our $1T budget gap. So either we have to scale back Medicare, Social Security and our military or we have to pony up and pay. Personally, I would not favor a gas tax – what we need is tax reform by abolishing the income tax and moving to a federal sales tax and that way it is spread more evenly than just punishing motorists.
     
     

  • avatar
    timlocke

    Better than a gas tax would be a Federal Value Added sales tax of between 5 and 10% applied to just about everything EXCEPT business inputs.  That would solve the US deficit problem in a hurry  and politically it would be everyone sharing the pain not just drivers

  • avatar
    John Fritz

    Why is anyone OK with the idea of handing even more of their personal income to this country’s criminal government? I am at an absolute loss trying to understand the thought process that makes people think having their money stolen from them by force and then redistributed by incompetent bureaucrats is a good idea.
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      I am at an absolute loss trying to understand the thought process that makes people think having their money stolen from them by force and then redistributed by incompetent bureaucrats is a good idea.
      The reality is people don’t want large cuts in Defense, SS or Medicare and that’s almost the whole budget – if the public doesn’t want large cuts the only option is smaller cuts and more taxes.

      The political will just doesn’t exist for the massive SS, Medicare and Defense cuts that would be required to close the budget gap without some new taxes.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      In a similar vein, I wonder how we in the US got so comfortable with taxation being used for coercive social engineering. Our government was granted the right to levy taxes for the purpose of funding necessary services. Nowhere in that mandate is “to force the citizenry to behave the way we believe they ought to behave”.
       
      Roadbuilding SHOULD come out of the general fund. It’s one of the necessary services they government exists to provide.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      Thanks!

      For a moment, I thought I was in 3rd grade Catholic class with a black robed woman walking up and down the isle with a stick in her hand telling us we were all born full of sin and were going to hell.
      That is, unless we paid more.

      Look folks, enough of the punishment.

      Sooner or later, you need to recognize the 300 ton gorilla in the room will not go away by feeding it more bananas!

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      The government is criminal because We the People allow it to be with our gullibility to propaganda, and our being ill informed, or apathetic when it comes time to vote.
      So Hmmm, send my money to a government, that possibly can be accountable to the people, or hand it over to billionaires who are driven by greed to the point of causing suffering and death of their fellow citizens and foreigners (hello shit health care, poverty, wars).
      In the absence of government, the “free market” allows economic entities to rule, and hello, that is fascism.  No Bill of Rights in a corporation or plutocrat’s agenda.
      Yes governments gone wrong can enslave, but, ONLY government can guarantee and protect freedoms, when government is done correctly.
      I would vote for an ever gradually increasing tax on all petroleum to wean us off of it.  The longer we binge up to or past peak oil the more painful the with drawl from the addiction will be.
       

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      No taxes = No government = Somalia
       

    • 0 avatar
      John Fritz

      No taxes = No government = Somalia
       
      This argument is a red herring.
       
      And Somalia most certainly does have a bastardized form of government. It’s not a funded organization such as the ones we’re accustomed to in the West, it’s groups of Somalis that band together and commit violence and coercion against otherwise peaceful members of their country. That is what’s responsible for the inexcusable treatment of their citizens. That is a form of government. If there was no government then people would be free to interact with one another any way they see fit. That is not going on in Somalia.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      No taxes = No government = Somalia

      So I guess the US was like Somalia before the income tax was introduced in 1913.  I didn’t know that.

      Taxes are not what creates a civilized society, nor is centralized government.

  • avatar
    tparkit

    Nope, no gas tax. Let’s shrink government instead:

    – The average compensation for a federal government employee is $123,000.

    – The average compensation for a private sector employee is $61,000.

    – According to Newsweek, seven of the ten richest counties in the US are in the Washington, DC area.

    – Since January 2008, private sector employment is down 6.8%. Employment at the federal government, however, has increased 10%.

    The upshot? There’s plenty of slashing and burning to do, starting with federal, state, and local government workers’ defined benefit pension plans. Fannie, Freddie, HUD, the Department of Education, etc. need to be 100% eliminated, and replaced by nothing.

    Increasing taxes is counterproductive can-kicking, and cowardly… a way of claiming we’re dealing with our problems without actually facing up to them.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      tparkit,
       
      Fire everyone in the government.  The president, everyone from general down to private, every FBI agent, EPA inspector, INS and CIA agent everyone from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to the Agriculture department and you save 258 billion.  That still leaves a $750 billion hole to fill.
       
      Where do you propose we get $750 billion without raising taxes?

    • 0 avatar
      chuckR

      Come on, jmo. That’s a close the national parks argument. You’re better than that, aren’t you? The Heritage Foundation has some suggestions for a $340 billion set of cuts as a start. IIRC, $45billion by laying off the entire Federal Dept of Education is one of the larger items and I certainly approve. It would certainly help to cut Congress’ staff, too.
      There isn’t a type of tax I’m opposed to on principal. But I am opposed to any tax increase until spending cuts have been made – and made to stick for more than a token period – and that must include entitlements, including the SS I’ve paid into for almost 40 years. If you think either major party has your interests at heart, you haven’t been paying attention for the past 20 years or so. Even after the on-giong dollar devaluation, we’re still boned by spending.

    • 0 avatar
      genuineleather

      In the context of the federal budget, employee payroll is a relatively small expense. Keep in mind that the cost for each department includes program costs (grants, subsidies, etc.) that would have to be eliminated as well to arrive at the claimed savings. Fixed entitlements must be tackled to acheive any meaningful results.

      SS: $678 billion
      Defense: $664 billion
      Medicare: $453 billion
      Medicaid: $290 billion

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      chuck,
       
      I was just objecting to the idea that the gap could be closed by the kind of minor cuts that tparkit proposed.  The only way to close a $1 trillion gap is with some significant cuts to SS, Medicare and Defense along with significant tax increases.  There is really no other realistic option.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      Umm   tparkit
      Care to mention military spending?
       

    • 0 avatar
      chuckR

      jmo
      We’re in agreement that we need more than cosmetic cuts. Genuineleather’s list of Medicare/Medicaid and defense and SS is a start, but lets toss in DHS, HHS and HUD too. For example, DHS didn’t stop the crotch bomber, the shoe bomber or the Nigerian nitwit who had been ratted out by his own father. Can’t get rid of them, but we need to stop the PC approach to checking passengers and to use some intelligence and profiling in place of these ridiculously expensive full body scanners. Maybe we can save some money, too.
      I’m willing to pay more tax only if that burden is accompanied by spending cuts.

  • avatar
    340-4

    Clever.
     
    They’ll get this passed under the guise of deficit reduction, when in reality they’ll just use it as a bottomless well of printable money, just like ‘social security’ taxes, to increase spending and debt.
     
    Nothing will change. Mark my words.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Yep, that’s the plan exactly. If all you people who want to pay more for gas would just open your checkbooks and start sending the government your spare money then the tax wouldn’t have to be raised for those of us who are smart enough to know that we can better spend our own money than the government can. If you don’t think you are paying enough then do your part.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    Isn’t it kinda weird that the the top 1000 richest people in the US together could probably pay off the total debt that your country has without breaking a sweat… On the other hand, to the rest of the world the US is more or less in a similar situation as GM was in the US. We can’t just let you go bankrupt or start demanding our money back, and as far as I know you have been in debt since, well, always? (not sure if you owe Norway any money, but we have around $500 billions in savings so we’ll manage)

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Isn’t it kinda weird that the the top 1000 richest people in the US together could probably pay off the total debt that your country has without breaking a sweat.

      What would ever make you think that? Your numbers are off by more than an order of magnitude.
       
      The richest 400 people in the US have a total net worth of $450 billion.  The total debt is $13.7 trillion.  Confiscating the total wealth of the richest 400 people in the US wouldn’t even pay one half of one years deficit.

      (not sure if you owe Norway any money, but we have around $500 billions in savings so we’ll manage)

      We’ve always been very nice to Norway and were happy to bail you out when you got yourselves into a tight spot :-)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupation_of_Norway_by_Nazi_Germany

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      I admit it was a a guess, I just added together the wealth of the top 20 on Forbes list, and passed 400 billions, so I figured the next 880 should be able to scrounge up the rest ;) ‘without breaking a sweat’ may have been stretching it a bit, but they sure wouldn’t starve to death :) We managed ourself quite well during the war btw, we just didn’t want to chase the Germans out before they had built proper roads, airfields, modern industry and infra-structure. (+ we stopped them from being first at making a working nuke by ruining their every attempt of making heavy-water)

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      we just didn’t want to chase the Germans out before they had built proper roads,
      Yeh, wouldn’t want to help take some of the pressure of us, the UK or Russia or anything.  Or maybe help divert some troops away from the death camps – but as long as you were ok that’s all that matters…

      As to your other point – the reality is that you can’t raise the kind of money you need to fund a northern European welfare state by taxing the rich.  You’ll note that even Norway only has a 28% capital gain tax and dividends are only taxed at 11%.

    • 0 avatar
      darkwing

      You’re conveniently ignoring the fact that Norway is a low-population nation awash in petrokrona. You might as well hold up Brunei as a world economic ideal.

  • avatar

    “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”:

    One step after the other:
    - First step: raise gas taxes, enjoy the money and spend it where ever you want
    - Second step: find out that you are out of money again
    - Third step: introduce mileage taxes in addition to the gas tax.

    (Somehow we have to cope with the reduced fuel consumption, haven’t we? Roads will have to be maintained, anyway.)

  • avatar
    Tree Trunk

    I have never understood why when our kind friends in the Middle East mess with the market and gas prices go up, even way up, people grumble a little bit, then take out the wallet and pay.  Life goes on pretty much as before.
     
    But when the feds even mention a hike in gas taxes to fill some of the holes in the transportation system or the black hole that is the national debt, people scream themselves silly how this would be a end of the world as we know it and go after any politician that isn’t three hundred percent against higher gas taxes with a pitch fork.
     
    Why is it acceptable to send money to the people that showed their gratitude for all the billions they have received on 911, but not to the federal government, that builds roads and finances health and education for the needy?
     

    • 0 avatar
      chuckR

      Reasonable question. If the Federal government is to blame for the condition of the roads in my state, they should be ashamed. In my state, they let the local clown posse use gas tax receipts to build a parking garage for a private mall, and if people hadn’t daylighted it, they would encourage things like the $1/4billion Alaskan bridge to nowhere. I am in favor of just shutting down Jimmy Carter’s Department of Education. It is not needed. DC and by extension,its schools, are under Federal oversight. The worst education that a terrible lot of money can buy is the result. You may go and read blogs by fire and rescue workers to get an idea of where our money goes for the health of the needy – Rescuing Providence and A Day in the Life of an Ambulance Driver are two such. It ain’t pretty. If you can find a way to direct tax our oil imports, who knows, a casus belli for the Canayjuns? We don’t import midEast oil to any great extent.

  • avatar

    No doubt a dime, even a quarter a gallon would be a start. Maybe a little more if it would eliminate the waste that “toll roads” are. The best would be to tax imported oil(a big weak link in the worlds “free” market system) and fuels as this would hopefully encourage more homegrown fuels. But corn ethanol is STILL a HUGE HOAX!!!

  • avatar
    John Horner

    The gas tax should have been indexed to overall inflation from day 1, and should be used to maintain our road system. Had this been done over time we would be at a much higher gas tax then we are right now, and would have a far superior infrastructure.
    So yes, I’m for a fifteen cent increase in the gas tax.
     

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    Instead of trying to bully everyone into tiny, under powered wussymobiles, how about just putting a 1 cent tax on EVERYTHING and add another cent to the “everything tax’ after a set amount of time (too lazy to do the math, few months to a year should do) until the deficit is paid? Once it’s paid the ‘everything’ tax can be ended until/if another large deficit ever looms.

    EVERYONE that lives in this country should contribute to paying it’s bills. Not just automobile owners, smokers, drinkers, the wealthy, or any other political flavor of the election cycle that some shrill, whining minority thinks needs socially engineered for ‘the common good’.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Come on!
    This is spectacular!
    People, let’s put the B&B heads together and get all the great taxation opportunities out.
    I know you can come up with more!
    We can, together, tax this world into correction. We can stop all the injustice. We can finally get this human race on the path to greatness.
    So come on…give it your best.

    Major increase of gas tax to pay for roads and force lower driving habits and encourage consumers to buy more efficient cars.

    Major 50% tax increase on snack foods to attempt to force consumers to eat correctly.
    Tax fat and sugar. The more in a food item, the more tax attached.

    Large tax increase on electrical use to force consumers to use less electricity no, wait…we want them to use more electric cars.

    Still another increase on tobacco to 99% and finally eliminate all smoking.
    After the smoking stops, increase all available taxes to make up for loss of tobacco tax.

    Increase taxes on booze to reduce cost of healthcare damages caused by use.

    Introduce tax on criminal activities. If tax cannot be paid by defendant, jail.
    Tax poor criminals more than rich criminals because…they have more than enough and should have known better.

    Tax on children to help reduce the size of families and the future pressure on  he environment.
     
    Increase taxes on meats.

    Mandate increases of ethanol in auto fuel…then increase tax on corn production to force less use of ethanol.

    Tax until they get it right!
    People, we can get this whole wrong world righted by careful surgical use of taxation.
    This is so simple!

    • 0 avatar
      reclusive_in_nature

      That burning sarcasm (I sure hope that’s what that is. There are stupid people who feel that way.) smells delightful. Wish D.C. could smell it.

    • 0 avatar
      darkwing

      How about indulgences? For $2500, you get a seven-day break from speeding — drive right through Ohio at 120+, flipping the bird at the trooper in the median, and you can go. For a quarter million, you can stab someone.

  • avatar
    uvrower

    I love driving, I love cars. I love being self sufficient and in control of my own destiny. Gas tax would be good if it was dedicated to supporting transportation (road repairs, infrastructure and yes public transportation) only.   Might as well segregate SSecurity too and let the revenue sources for particular items support only those items.  Then we could see what each really costs and the electorate could assist in making the right decisions on revenue/taxes/income/job creation.
    Yes a gas tax could drive correct consumer behavior.  But implement over time to give the ability for people to make adjustments in their lives to afford the changes.   Its about time to pay what the rest of the real world pays.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Yes, raise the gas tax,  but do it immediately, so we feel it.  If we don’t feel it, it won’t do as much good.  A $.15 per gallon tax would just lower the demand curve so the oil companies can charge us less Better that the money go into our highways or even general revenue.  We should have an immediate $.15 increase and then small increases every three months until we get to about a dollar a gallon.  Then we pause and look at the results.  We need to set a national policy against wasting gasoline and all carbon fuels, but give people enough chance to adjust their behavior so the costs are not onerous.
    Even if you don’t believe in global warming (which I do), you have to concede that our foreign policy and national security have been too tied to our demand for foreign oil.  We need to wean ourselves away from it as much as possible.

    • 0 avatar
      dhanson865

      It needs to be immediate but 2013 is after the next presidential election.
      I’d gladly pay an extra .15 a gallon today just to reduce the debt
      I’d gladly pay an extra .15 a gallon for each 5% drop in the use of ethanol. E10 is too much for me, give me E5 or E0 please.
      I have one gas station within 10 miles of my house that sells 100% gasoline. Since I get 50+ mpg I can afford the trip to buy there but I’d gladly pay the premium to get it 5 miles closer.
      Yeah, I don’t care about the price per gallon, I care about the percentage of gas in the gallon.

  • avatar
    Mike Kelley

    You want to give this government even more tax money?  http://gatewaypundit.firstthings.com/2010/09/unreal-obama-says-gop-pledge-to-cut-spending-is-irresponsible/

  • avatar
    05lgt

    It’s not enough.  Our national transportation funding from the general fund and local support of all the many expenses associated with my beloved auto based transportation is a subsidy, and it stifles development of alternatives.  A gas tax is the best way to fund the costs associated with using the system and tends to tax the vehicles doing the most damage to the roads (weight and speed).  The tax increase should be bigger and faster.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    I’m always in favor of gas taxes.  It’s a vastly superior way to achieve the same goals as a silly patchwork of cash-for-clunkers, toll roads, subsidies for hybrids and on and on.

    15% would improve my lifestyle by reducing how much my fellow citizens drive, provide money to offset the wasteful way we North Americans use cars, and make people drive slower.  It wouldn’t change my vehicle choices.  Gas is the cheapest thing we put in our cars.  People will specify $3000 techno gadgets and cars loaded with “features”, but go bananas if their gas costs a few extra bucks per year.

    Another angle would be to barcode cars so that the worse mileage the car gets, the higher percentage of tax is added at the gas pump.

    If people don’t like gas taxes, then they should oppose the seldom-discussed vast subsidies enjoyed by the oil industry..

  • avatar
    Gunit

    I was surprised to see that about 70% voted against this on CNN’s poll. Hell no, pass the debt on to our children, we want cheap gas!
    Of course the govt could just reduce the trillions spent on military and put the savings into paying off the debt. Many problems solved; free market pressure for more economical cars, more oil for future generations, more viability for alternative transportation methods, a future of reduced taxation…

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      I was surprised to see that about 70% voted against this on CNN’s poll. Hell no, pass the debt on to our children, we want cheap gas!

      From a purely practical point of view, this is a great idea.  Lots of cheap gas for you and me, somebody else pays for it a generation from now.

      Perfect.  Let’s do it.

  • avatar

    So long as Americans eat fried food, I’ll be just fine thankyouverymuch.
     
     

  • avatar
    SVX pearlie

    An extra penny per gallon each month for the next 15 months really isn’t significant, when you consider Europe taxes by the dollar, not the penny.

  • avatar
    tsofting

    I sure am not a sponsor of higher taxes. Any government always “needs” a little more money to throw at their pet pojects. However, an increased federal gas tax would primarily serve the purpose of curtailing consumption, which is desperately needed, and secondly, it would put i big dent in the bottomless deficit of the budget, whuch is just as desperately needed.

    Here’s a little to chew on for you knee-jerk-absolutely-no-to-taxes guys: If Americans used energy at a rate comparable to the Europeans, the US would be a net exporter of oil! Instead, we chose to place our destiny in the hands of crazy ragheads from the Middle East, who could chrash the US economy just by flipping a switch. Now, how great is that?

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    I am a firm believer in letting folks make their own decisions regarding behavior as long as they pay full freight for the costs of their choices.  A gas tax theoretically does just that:  The more you drive, the more you pay.  Being that America’s infrastructure is badly in need of an overhaul, raising the tax on fuel is really overdue.  So, if the money was going to be used only for bridges, roads, and mass-transit I am in favor it.  But this will never happen.  One, it is a political hot-potato.  Obama got clobbered in the mid-term elections and he is not going to give the Republicans that gas-tax trump card to play.  Two, if the government said the tax was only to be used for roads, would you believe it?  New York state raised the gas tax a long time ago and publicly stated that it was for road/transit only.  The upshot?  It was used to plug holes in the general budget.
     
    So what should the purpose of taxes be anyway?  Like it or not, taxes are used to change behavior, not just to “pay the bills.”  Is that bad?  Looking at fuel for an example, the US government has instituted policy to try to curb the consumption of fuel per person.  Reasons being that procuring that fuel has military and diplomatic costs, national security costs, health and environmental costs, etc.  A very good case can be made to say yes, the government has a real need to manipulate the market to drive down usage.  To me, the bigger question is where do you draw the line?  Does this mean that to battle the ever-increasing wasitlines of Americans that fatty fast food should be taxed?  I guess some call it social engineering and that the government has no business in trying to alter people’s legal behavior.  I can see their point, but why should I pay for a couple of bypass surgeries for a guy who chose to lead an unhealthy life?

  • avatar
    DarkSpork

    I thought gas prices played a role in the recession? I’m probably mistaken. Wouldn’t it be easier to tax engine displacement? As in a set annual fee perhaps 1.5L would be $100 and each additional liter would be $100. It would render the CAFE standards useless and we could avoid the ill side-effects of more expensive fuel (everything costs more, which hurts the economy). 

    I’m only half-serious, I’d have to sell my Ranger immediately if I had to pay $350 extra annually. But I don’t like the idea of the gas tax either. I have a better idea keep the national debt from increasing; quit squandering all of the taxpayer’s dollars away. Pull the plug on GM, pull the plug on Chrysler, tax anybody who accepted “stimulus” money, axe the healthcare reform, and do whatever it takes to finish up in the middle east (send more troops, equipment, whatever is needed) then pull out when reasonable.

    I feel that it would be very unfair to pay more in taxes because the past two administrations have not been careful with the tax dollars we have already been paying. Also, how can we be sure all of the money from a new  tax would go towards paying off this deficit? Anybody driven on tollroad in IL? They’re terrible, filled with cracks, ruts, potholes.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    Taxing gasoline for road maintenance does make sense from an efficiency standpoint. I’d be willing to support a gas tax increases up to $5 per gallon if
    - CAFE standards were abolished.
    - all revenue went to road maintenance. However, no revenue could be used on toll roads.
    - all revenue is posted online monthly. Break it down by zip code and congressional district, too.
    - all spending is posted online monthly. Break it down by zip code, congressional district, project cost. Put them all on google maps.
    Instantly you’d get a more honest, transparent, and efficient system of road maintenance. Which is why it’ll never happen. Too many pigs, lobbyists and legislators are at the trough of the current system.
     

  • avatar

    “If Americans used energy at a rate comparable to the Europeans, the US would be a net exporter of oil!”
    Citation needed.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    The twelve step method of saving our country (and making toast)…

    1) Bring Federal and State employment levels back to 1995 levels.

    2) Bring taxation for individuals and corporations back to 1986 levels.

    3) Remove the cap on Social Security taxes

    4) Let the Europeans, Koreans, Taiwanese and Japanese defend their own terriotories.

    5) Let the Bush tax cuts lapse… they should have never existed in a fiscally responsible world.

    6) Eliminate the child tax credit.

    7) Eliminate political parties altogether. The consistent lobbying of them leads to a government that is constantly held hostage by special interests.

    8) Eliminate PACs, soft money, and all forms of TV and radio advertisement for political candidates. Candidates can only use a fixed amount for spending and only a certain number of signatures for certain positions would enable their candidacy.

    9) Export all repeat violent offenders and perverts in our penal system to a thrid world country that can better manage the financial cost of imprisoning these folks. The death penalty may not work. But perhaps a one way ticket to some hellacious place may discourage it.

    and finally number ten…

    10) Abandon the current policy of dollar devaluation which has been in place for nearly three decades now.  It has not worked in over 2000 years and will not work for the forseeable long-term.

    We need to take our medicine and make the hard choices. Unfortunately, it won’t happen in a two party system where people can be actively bribed into making bad decisions.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    It would be a Sin Tax that would punish small businesses that aren’t delivering produce or livestock in BMW 7 series’. Show me a Trucking Co that uses bigger more luxurious trucks than necessary. Should companies that do mobile windshield repair or pest control that already use Rangers & Tacomas be punished for their ‘irresponsible behavior’? They can’t pass all their expenses on to the consumer. At least not the smaller businesses.

  • avatar
    GoBears

    One idea wouldbe to have a variable gasoline tax that kicks in when gasoline prices fall below some predetermined floor to make up the difference between the gasoline price and the floor. At least in this way, car manufacturers can have some better certainty that consumer demand for fuel efficiency in cars won’t swing wildly with gasoline prices.

    Note that a gasoline tax can be designed to decrease demand for gasoline but be revenue neutral as the same time (not the latter is something is necessarily desirable by the government right now). This can be done by setting up the gasoline tax as a feebate.  Under such a system, gasoline is taxed per gallon at the pump.   The ‘feebate’ aspect is that the tax gets distributed back to taxpayers at the end of the year, says as part of a Federal income tax rebate.  However, the rebate for a family is calculated on the basis some national average use of gasoline per per adult, times the number of adults in the family.  In this way, people who drive fuel efficient cars and drive less miles, or don’t even have cars, would actually pay a net negative fuel tax, and the reverse would more gasoline than average.  The higher the tax at the pump, the greater the incentive to drive less miles and/or drive more efficient vehicles. Of course, such a system would be relatively complex to implement with regards to details of calculating average fuel use, etc.  Persumably, some portion of fuel tax would still need to be retained by the government for the usual purposes.

  • avatar
    Acubra

    And so all the sheep in the heard bleat in unison – Fleece, fleece us more, MASTER! Your gov will spend the additional taxes on whatever it damn pleases and will come demanding more.
    America’s taken down the USSR but the latter has the last laugh – as “USA” is quickly progressing into “USSA”…


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