Ask The Best And Brightest: Gas Tax?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
ask the best and brightest gas tax

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?

Join the conversation
2 of 113 comments
  • GoBears GoBears on Nov 13, 2010

    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.

  • Acubra Acubra on Nov 14, 2010

    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"...

  • KOKing I'm in an emissions check only state, and I'd trade that away for a safety check all day.
  • Bd2 The hybrid powertrain in the Sportage and Tucson are the ones to get.H/K should discontinue the base NA 2.5L powertrain and just build more of the hybrid.In the future, maybe offer a 2nd, more powerful hybrid (the hybrid 2.5) which will first arrive with the next Telluride/Palisade.Kia also needs to redo the front fascia for the Sportage's refresh.
  • The Oracle I say let the clunkers stay on the roads.
  • Jpolicke Twenty-three grand for a basket case? And it has '66 wheel covers and gas cap so who knows what else isn't original?
  • Scott Can't be a real 1965 Stang as all of those are nothing but a pile of rust that MIGHT be car shaped by now.