By on March 25, 2015

Gas Prices Circa December 2014

In response to today’s editorial on the CAFE overview, reader jmo proposed a novel solution to the very idea of regulating fuel economy.

Jmo writes:

“We don’t need to scrap CAFE”

Sure we do and replace it with a $2/gallon gas tax.

To hell you say, abolish both. But, between CAFE and fracking we’ve really put the screws to Iran, Venezuela and Russia. I’m all for the free market but we also have geopolitical enemies that need to be dealt with and low oil prices are far more productive than wars at keeping our enemies in check.

I like the idea of a gas tax in place of CAFE. Let the people buying the gas guzzlers take the hit, rather than punish the consumers with vehicles that designed around a deeply flawed set of regulations. In countries where gasoline taxes are higher, consumers tend to gravitate towards smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles.

Unless you’re Canada, where the Ford F-Series, Ram 1500 and GM full-size trucks still dominate the sales charts. Canadian consumers do tend to shy away from thirstier passenger cars, but they love their pickups, and are willing to shell out at the pump in exchange for the chance to drive one.

Let’s hear your thoughts or alternative suggestions below

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198 Comments on “Question Of The Day: How Would You Reform CAFE?...”


  • avatar
    Hummer

    So because we have a deeply flawed set of regulation that hurts everyone we need to make people that drive vehicles you personally find unappealing pay for doing so?

    Isn’t there a word for that…

    As I just posted on the other thread,
    Remove the gas tax
    Impose monthly fee that covers each license holder for an unlimited number of vehicles, a road use charge that comes out to equal the individuals portion of road costs.
    -Makes the DOT more responsible
    -No tracking
    -No childish “let’s make others pay” mess
    -Fair for everyone
    -No EV taxing issues
    -No loss of funds with less consumption

    • 0 avatar

      Who said I find them unappealing?

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Because the term you use implies a certain level of disdain, further your using it to contrast vehicles that don’t meet said classification. Additionally you’ve never really shown much interest in such vehicles from past reading.

        • 0 avatar
          mike978

          You can argue that paying for what you use is also fair. Just not in the flat tax approach you list with the novel idea of a licence tax essentially.

        • 0 avatar

          If I had sufficient parking, I’d have a new F-150 in my driveway tomorrow. Detroit’s full-size pickups are some of the finest vehicles in the world. I love big, American cars with V8 engines. Owning one makes no sense for me.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            It doesn’t have to make sense, owning a Fiesta ST over a base Fiesta makes no sense, doing what you can reasonable afford to do that makes one comfortable for their very short lives is much more important. Wanting to impose limits on others for making the most of what they enjoy isn’t a very productive use of time. Enjoying life shouldn’t come from seeing others suffer.

            Roads aren’t great, but let’s be honest, we have way too many roads to maintain, and everytime I turn on the news I hear about an expansion, a new corridor, or a new proposition for more roads. Many of these new highways end up saving about 5-10% in time, is the cost of building and maintaining ~100 miles of 4 lane road, while still maintains the multiple old roads worthwhile?
            We should look at what we’re doing today before we consider punishing the entire country. When fuel goes up, small business lose. I would much rather give that money to my local bussinesses than to the government, the fuel is in the cost of living, the price doesn’t hurt me as much as it hurts my community.

          • 0 avatar

            “Enjoying life shouldn’t come from seeing others suffer.”

            What kind of strawman BS is this?

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            You can’t possibly say that the average person doesn’t feel the affect of fuel prices. You also can’t say that an increase in fuel prices doesn’t affect the ones around you.

            Point is suggesting what (at time being) would be a 100% increase in fuel prices would have a devastating affect on the economic rebound we’re seeing. Some of us only briefly saw $4 gas, the majority of the time the bad times meant $3.6X a gallon.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Better roads make cars operate more efficiently at optimum speeds

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Certainly, but cannot we pay Farmer John to regrade the 3 mile dead-end road every couple of months rather than laying a new road every 15 years.
            Basically remove it as a state-maintained road.

          • 0 avatar

            @Hummer

            No-one is wanting to see others suffer (in this little discussion). But any policy has winners and losers. Policies that allow millions cars and trucks much over 3,000 lbs infringe on my enjoyment by making it too dangerous by my own standards to drive a 2200 lb Miata or a 2000 lb Honda Insight (I’d put a toyota 2 liter engine in it and take out the batteries).

            As far as the qotd, get rid of CAFE, impose a gas tax of probably on the order of $1/gallon.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Why are your standards the bees knees?

            There’s nothing even or close to fair about picking winners and losers. The economy is doing very well, other than selfish motivations there’s no reason to suggest a regressive tax. Why should small ricer owners that act like children need to get in my way of driving a 7K # vehicle? Why don’t we just ban those vehicles through safety regulation?

            Policies should seek to inflict minimal damage, $1-gal tax would bring the economic recovery to a halt.

          • 0 avatar
            mkirk

            @David, yes laws aren’t based on your personal standards. I can trot people out that do not feel safe at the Grocery Store without an AK-47 slung from their shoulder. Or maybe I watched a lot of Waking Dead and don’t feel “safe” without a .50 cal mounted in my truck. Those responsible for automotive safety have decided that it is perfectly reasonable for your Miata and an H1 to share the road. Your feelings are frankly irrelevant outside of your own purchasing choices. As an avid motorcyclist maybe I look at your Miata with similar disdain.

    • 0 avatar

      The people who use the roads the most, and cause the most wear and damage, should pay the most. The Europeans and Japan have had a better answer for decades. I’d like to see our fuel tax on a sliding scale pegged to the world market price of oil

      What has fracking accomplished? For the past few years we so no break in the price of fuel UNTIL OPEC decided, as they do every now and then, to maintain production to drive the price down to run out competitors. The price will rise on its own as high priced production wanes. There will be less interest in EV. There will be less fracking. There will be less conservation, less interest in alternative fuels, etc. etc. etc. Why be surprised when a cartel engages in cartel behaviour?

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        It is a question of economic benefit, not use. The person who drives 0 miles per year, receives the same consumer, defense, health services, and other benefits as someone who drives 25,000 miles per year. Direct taxation for road use should be a very small component of road funding.

        • 0 avatar
          carve

          …and the military, healthcare, and trucks that the person DOES benefit from will pass the expense to that person as they purchase those goods and services.

      • 0 avatar
        Master Baiter

        “The people who use the roads the most, and cause the most wear and damage, should pay the most.”

        Why? You look from your photo like you probably don’t have kids in school anymore. Yet you still pay property taxes to fund schools.

        I agree with TW5’s comment above.

        • 0 avatar
          mkirk

          We all benefit from decent schools, admittedly some more than others. Roads are the same. Maybe you drive 0 miles per year, but if you have a heart attack or your house is on fire you are likely to want decent roads between your home and the fire station or hospital. I have no issue with everyone chipping in for roads.

      • 0 avatar
        Parousia

        OPEC’s decision NOT to act (by keeping the same amount of supply) shows that fracking and other forms of domestic energy production that have recently come on line ARE influencing the global price of oil (along with the strong US dollar). Too much supply for the demand has resulted in lower prices.

        Cut the current level of gas tax in half; make the feds responsible for the CONSTRUCTION of new interstates, but the states responsible for the maintenance of those roads and construction and maintenance of their other roadways directly (thus removing the “…or we’ll cut your highway funds” racket). Let the states decide how to generate the funds to build and maintain their roads, how well they want to maintain them and how (and when) to build new ones. How they levy their taxes will provide the sticks and carrots for which vehicles are encouraged and discouraged for purchase. The policies of the states that do the best will be adopted by other states over time and more closely reflect the will of the voter than a Federal Regulatory Agency. Ditch CAFE and let the states and drivers decide for themselves.

    • 0 avatar
      ckb

      “a road use charge that comes out to equal the individuals portion of road costs….

      -No tracking”

      Good idea. And this will work because no one ever cheated on their taxes either.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      I love how most people’s off-the-cuff ideas for simplifying taxes (or government in general) typically makes things even more complicated and unfair.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Seems more fair to me, everyone is paying equally for the roads they use, and the infrastructure needed to support the lifestyle we desire. The difference in road wear is negligible when it comes to everything under 10k lbs, especially when that weight is supported by wider tires or more tires.

        • 0 avatar
          Dan

          Flat rate pricing is a subsidy from light users paid to heavy ones.

          Owning a vehicle isn’t using the road. Using the road is using the road. I’d like to see pay by the hour.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Using DOT funds for sidewalks or other project doesn’t mean I will use them.

            Having a license for the vast majority of Americans means they were transported to an office on state/federal roads to get it.

            I wrote the above in about 30 seconds, of course it’s not flawless, but neither is raising fuel prices 100%.

          • 0 avatar
            S1L1SC

            Pay by the hour while sitting in rush hour traffic that isn’t moving – Mile driven seems a bit fairer, but I guess this would be considered “congestion pricing”, just like you have pay to drive into downtown London in certain vehicles…

          • 0 avatar
            mkirk

            You know what, I don’t use food stamps or welfare but I damn sure pay taxes that go that way every year. Roads are integral to our society no matter if you use them or not. You think all of that food gets teleported to your local grocery store. And when you call the cops I guess they will just magically appear.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        It’s fair because it’s based on equality. It’s just that some people are more equal than others.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Coming soon to Hummer’s world: a sharp increase in the number of unlicensed, unaccountable, uninsured drivers.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        No more than the already large number of individuals already doing that.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Seems totally implausible that if you transfer all road maintenance expenses into the license renewal rather than the gas tax, thereby making the license renewal many times more expensive, then people won’t try harder to avoid the license renewal.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      License fees are just another method of making someone else pay for the economic benefits of roads. If you want a fair tax for roads, you’ll need to bump payroll tax by 1%. Income tax would be a reasonable fallback, since seniors also benefit from roads, though they may not have earned income.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      You do realize you’re arguing two different issues, right?

      Road maintenance is largely a factor of weight. 10,000 mid-size sedans driving on pavement do far less wear than 100 semis pulling near maximum tonnage. So in a fairly stable geographic zone (coastal zones have much harder wear due to weather) the issue is more so overweight or just extremely heavy vehicles destroying roads.

      Mileage in terms of fuel is an issue of size for travel weight. If your suburban is empty 9 out of 10 times you drive it that’s wasteful and should be charged accordingly.

      So a flat tax is regressive, a progressive scale that is currently used based on fuel usage (i.e. the gas tax) is actually the fairest system without getting more intrusive.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Ditch it. If consumption is a problem, it’ll rectify itself once the cheap fuel is gone. Crisis is an opportunity.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I agree!

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I agree as far as consumption is concerned. But CAFE is also intended to reduce pollution. I’m no greenie, but the government should have a say in regulating the air we breathe.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        CAFE is not for emissions at all. Emissions are regs in place for that as some emissions actually correlate negatively with better fuel economy.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          CAFE began as a response to the OPEC crisis. Its mission has since been expanded to address climate change.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Yes, it was convenient to tack on CO2 because that’s about the only emission of interest that could be reliably associated with CAFE.

            Can’t edit the prev comment, but I meant that some emissions that are of a concern (like NOx) correlate positively with higher fuel economy.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Climate change was not on anyone’s radar in the 70s. It is now, and the only way to reduce carbon emissions is to burn less petroleum — there is no technological add-on similar to an EGR valve, catalytic converter, etc. that can be used to address it.

          • 0 avatar
            Master Baiter

            “Climate change was not on anyone’s radar in the 70s.”

            Sure it was. We were all going to die from global cooling. How’d that work out?

          • 0 avatar

            @Danio

            In the ’70s, there were two OPEC oil embargoes, and you had to wait in long lines to get gas. Major impetus for CAFE.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            There was no global cooling consensus among scientists in the 1970s. But thanks for playing.

          • 0 avatar
            jetcal1

            PCH,
            just to add some background, my geography textbook in 1973 had a chapter on global cooling caused by Co2. I remember it well as it had an illustration explaining albedo effect. (Earth as giant cue ball.)

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Your 1973 geography textbook was mistaken… it happens

  • avatar
    Pch101

    CAFE is a non-issue. I would stop worrying about it.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      We got the CAFE we deserve.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      What about all of the people who want change?

    • 0 avatar
      markf

      That non-global consensus made the cover of time magazine warning of the impending New Ice Age. Liberals, always wrong but never in doubt……

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “global cooling was much more an invention of the media than it was a real scientific concern. A survey of peer-reviewed scientific papers published between 1965 and 1979 shows that the large majority of research at the time predicted that the earth would warm as carbon-dioxide levels rose — as indeed it has.”

        http://science.time.com/2013/06/06/sorry-a-time-magazine-cover-did-not-predict-a-coming-ice-age/

        You might want to work on your research and literacy skills, as they aren’t very good.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          What 1970s science said about global cooling
          Posted on 26 February 2008 by John Cook

          A persistent argument designed to discredit the field of climate science is that scientists predicted an ice age in the 1970s. So popular in fact that it ranks an impressive #7 in the most cited skeptic arguments. The logic goes that climate scientists got it completely wrong predicting global cooling in the 1970s (it started warming instead). Hence climate science can’t be trusted about current global warming predictions. Setting aside the logical flaws of such an ad hominem argument, was there any consensus among 70s climate scientists predicting global cooling?
          The evidence for global cooling consensus

          Most cited is a 1975 Newsweek article The Cooling World that suggested cooling “may portend a drastic decline for food production”:

          “Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the cooling trend… But they are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century.”

          A 1974 Times Magazine article Another Ice Age? painted a similarly bleak picture:

          “When meteorologists take an average of temperatures around the globe, they find that the atmosphere has been growing gradually cooler for the past three decades. The trend shows no indication of reversing. Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age.”

          However, these are media articles, not peer reviewed scientific papers. Does a consensus on global cooling emerge from the scientific literature?

          http://www.skepticalscience.com/What-1970s-science-said-about-global-cooling.html

        • 0 avatar
          Master Baiter

          If you don’t think today’s media is promoting gloom and doom over global warming then you’re not listening.

          “2014 was the hottest year on record!” says the media.

          Yes, it was a whole 0.01 degree warmer than 1998. The headline should read,

          “the earth has experienced no measurable warming in 16 years.”

          But that headline doesn’t advance the left’s agenda, so we don’t hear it in the media.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            “No measurable warming in 16 years”… from the hottest year on record, ever.

            No one who uses 1998 as a comparison point can be taken seriously.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I suppose that it would be too much to ask to have you admit that your global cooling comment was utter bulls**t.

    • 0 avatar

      @Master BAiter

      In fact, in 1975 I took a class from John Holdren, now Pres O’s science advisor, on Quantitative Aspects of Global Env’tal Problems. Holdren was presciently concerned at that time about global warming, not about global cooling. (The class was the first I ever heard of global warming.)

      • 0 avatar
        hybridkiller

        Here’s a handy little visual for those that think any of Rupert Murdoch’s media outlets are a hotbed (sorry, couldn’t resist) of cutting-edge science:

        http://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2014-hottest-year-on-record/

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    “Canadian consumers do tend to shy away from thirstier passenger cars, but they love their pickups…”

    The latter assertion above remains to be seen in an era of sustained sub-$70 USD/barrel oil prices & historically high commodity prices, in general.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if more than 1/2 of Canadian pickup truck sales were in places such as the Alberta tar sands or strip mining blights.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Edit won’t work –

      Should read “sub-$70 USD/barrel oil prices & historically LOW commodity prices, in general.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      “I wouldn’t be surprised if more than 1/2 of Canadian pickup truck sales were in places such as the Alberta tar sands or strip mining blights.”

      I would, and I live in Canada in the poorest region. There are more F150s on my short street than any other make or kind of vehicle. I went to see the Focus ST a year ago, and the sales oaf was disappointed I didn’t want an F150. There are approximately 300 F150s in the lot, a bunch of Explorers and Escapes. The cars were hard to find. So I just gave up – why in hell would I buy a car with a none-too-stellar repair record from a dealer whose mechanics hardly ever work on one?

      Frankly, lately, your suppositions have not been prescient in any way I can discern.

    • 0 avatar
      dash riprock

      No, surprisingly (for some), truck owners in Canada tend to use them for towing and just general transportation.

      Alberta’s population is less than 12% of Canada’s, so to expect that more than half of pickup sales to be from there is a little uninformed.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        True but there is a disproportional amount of Raptors and brodozers roaming the wilds of Calgary ;)

        Per capita we own more pickups than Americans. Another interesting factoid is most of us live within 100 km of the USA.

        That does kill the theory that rural Canadians and those involved in heavy industry buy all of the pickups.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    Just the gas tax. Let me decide if it’s better to live 2 miles from work and commute in a Hellcat or live 30 miles from work and commute in a Prius. Right now under CAFE we reward the latter and penalize the former, which is nonsensical. Under a gas tax, everyone finds the solution that works for them (telecommute, car pool, more efficient car, alternate fuel vehicle, public transportation, move closer, just pay the tax, etc etc etc). Under CAFE you try and force a solution that may or may not be looking for a problem (ie penalizing the Hellcat driver with the 2 mile commute).

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      We already see a lot of that “sorting out” in what drivers use for their daily commute. But regardless of how many vehicles an individual chooses to own, or what they decide to drive to work, or work out of, people will continue to buy as much gasoline as they want and need, no matter what the price is.

      Plenty of precedence there at $5/gallon.

      Politicians know this and enact taxes and levies accordingly under the guise of building revenue for road and bridge infrastructure repair.

      But no matter how much money they raise with these levies and taxes, it is never enough, nor will it ever be enough.

      That’s the nature of the (regulatory tax) beast.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Regarding that 2 mi commute–I fully support improving our infrastructure so that people can actually have a 2 mi commute. When housing and worksites don’t align (for example, most professional jobs exist within a few blocks in a central business district, but all the housing desired by those professionals are in the suburbs or exurbs), you build-in a minimum energy consumption. Mass transit isn’t a solution since it only treats a symptom, not the real problem.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      One of the biggest socioeconomic calamities in the US is people doing counterproductive and harmful activities solely to avoid taxation. People surrendering huge portions of their paycheck to secure an itemized mortgage interest deduction. Companies granting lavish health insurance, which inflates healthcare costs, simply because health insurance in the US is tax-free compensation. Etc and so on ad nauseum.

      People are already hypersensitive to gasoline prices. We don’t need to add a huge federal gasoline tax to the mix, especially since the federal tax will reduce demand and crowd out state gasoline tax revenue. States will raise taxes, which will require the federal government to raise taxes again………….

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        “One of the biggest socioeconomic calamities in the US is people doing counterproductive and harmful activities solely to avoid taxation. ”

        As one who strives to do just such an avoidance of taxes, I can tell you that others like me also tend to overcompensate with donations to areas that really matter, like community-assistance fund raising, food banks, homeless shelters, volunteering, Sertoma, blood drives, pancake breakfasts, Lions, Elks, Moose, VFW, American Legion — each of which is a very prudent application and use of the time and money we donate.

        Unlike the misappropriation and ill-advised use of our tax money collected by government “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

        • 0 avatar
          TW5

          I take no issue with tax avoidance; however, what do you suppose the long-term payback is for a bone-headed activity like inflating interest expense on your home? What is the long term dividend associated with health insurance premium subsidization? Buying a more expensive vehicle to get a bump in sales tax deduction?

          You’d be better off paying the tax, and investing the remainder. Charity pays dividends for others so I’m obviously not griping about charitable deductions.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            TW5, the business, as an entity, pays enough taxes as is. And we keep excellent records for the business.

            Why complicate matters by having individuals taxed as well on their income by putting them on the business’ payroll? The short answer is, you don’t.

            The tax-avoidance practices that small business owners utilize are outlined in the US tax code and widely accepted, as well as providing a wealth of loopholes and deductions.

            This is not the venue to get into great detail, but what gets a lot of people into trouble is their greed.

          • 0 avatar
            TW5

            Most registered business pay no taxes. C-Corp tax revenues are a small percentage of revenues to the treasury. Furthermore, you couldn’t tax businesses only because all of the profits would be distributed as tax-free salary.

            If we made any change, we’d eliminate C-Corp taxation, and tax everything at the individual level.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “tax everything at the individual level.”

            I would like to see the complete US tax code revamped and tax everything at the individual level.

            The way things are now, we have the producers and moneyed in America being taxed while the freeloaders don’t have to pay any tax at all.

            But things will never change so we have to continue to play by the rules set forth for us.

            I can’t complain. I lived by those rules all my life and my wife and I haven’t had to file a tax return since I retired from the Air Force in 1985, because our total official income never exceed the amount set by the IRS in the “Who Must File” paragraph and decision table.

      • 0 avatar

        the beauty of a gas tax is that it reduces consumption, making it harder for oil producers to raise prices. Thus, the money we pay for gas in North America stays in our own countries instead of going to the Middle East, or Russia (among other places).

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @David C. Holzman,
          I do agree a gas tax increase is necessary in the US and the complete demolition of the complex web of anti competitive protection, tariffs, barriers removed from the US vehicle industry.

          The use of these instruments creates the need to generate a multitude of counter measure to offset the negative impact these uncompetitive tools create.

          This costs massive amounts of money to the consumer, or US taxpayer.

          Increasing fuel tax doesn’t involve more civil servants, the auto companies don’t have to waste money managing, designing, engineering to work within an inefficient framework of regulations and controls.

          Vehicle costs would reduce.

          With a 50c per gallon increase in fuel tax and the liberalisation of the US vehicle manufacturing sector would infact create wealth.

          I figure a person buying a large vehicle, ie, pickup would have to drive at least 150 000 – 200 000 miles to produce a negative return.

          This is the reduction in the cost of the vehicle due to a more competitive market, the $3 000 per vehicle protection/subsidy per vehicle manufactured in the US and even if possible the use of the money to the lowering of company tax.

          The removal of CAFE along with other restructuring of the US vehicle market would benefit the individual, the consumer.

          If the individual and consumer wins, then the country wins.

          Imagine, the consumer with more money to invest/spend on other things!

  • avatar
    PeterKK

    I’m good with a gas tax.

    • 0 avatar
      MrGreenMan

      +1

      I would like it dedicated to transportation, and not a repeat of “smokes for the children” that cigarette taxes became here, but, yes, a gas tax to fund road infrastructure and transportation costs of government. It’s a good enough first order approximation of how much damage a vehicle does, and you then have the freedom of choice to drive what you want if you can afford it.

      There is no risk of the US market losing all small, fuel-efficient options. When GM could kill the independents, yes, there was a risk. Now, with ten companies or more that are more than capable of providing great fuel-efficient options, there is no chance.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      The problem with a higher gas tax, other than the fact that it’s political suicide and highly regressive, is that it’s an externality to automakers. They don’t pay it, and they don’t care if it’s taking food off the family dinner table.

      Pre-CAFE, you couldn’t buy a family car with decent fuel economy and performance at any price.

      What CAFE does is tell the auto makers “you fix your fuel efficiency problem, we don’t care how, just do it.” Sure, they cried like grounded teenagers, but cars today are much much better than they used to be. And more powerful, and cheaper overall (although people still buy as much car as they can afford).

      • 0 avatar
        ClutchCarGo

        Gas taxes are an externality to automakers but not to car buyers. Now that mfrs have a good idea how to pursue higher mileage/lower consumption, the marketplace will keep the pressure on mfrs to improve mileage in real world usage, not the artificial world of CAFE. But only as long as fuel prices motivate buyers.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        The gas tax isn’t regressive….It’s progressive. It’s based on usage of fuel. The only argument to be made about it being regressive is for perhaps a situation where fuel was a requirement of the job and thus was a cost towards overall work. But as it stands the system is progressive, if you choose to consume more you pay more.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          It’s regressive because people with a lower income pay proportionally more. It’s immaterial if you make a decent income, but it’s huge if you need your car to drive to your minimum wage job.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            I should add: the problem with this type of tax is that it leaves a lot of money on the table.

            Some people who would gladly pay more for the privilege of driving a big/powerful/inefficient car don’t, where others are priced out of the market even though they could pay into a less regressive system.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          The gas tax is a textbook example of a regressive tax.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    jmo is exactly right, except that the amount of his tax is probably a bit too low. Abolish CAFE and all other fuel economy regulations, and replace them with a $3/gallon gas tax. Make the tax on gas and diesel exactly the same. All of that would take our fuel prices to about the same level as the lower-priced countries in Europe. Use the proceeds to repair crumbling road infrastructure and to build new mass transit infrastructure in and near cities, where further road infrastructure is impossible.

    The gas tax is really as good as taxes ever get. It creates all sorts of socially beneficial incentives, while being stupidly cheap and easy to collect and administer, and not subjecting anyone to onerous regulation.

    • 0 avatar
      cpthaddock

      It’s a cold day in hell when any proposal gets bipartisan support in congress these days. The very fact that raising gas taxes does says it all.

      Adding to the many valid observations in favor, a long term escalator in the rate itself will provide a predictive basis for planning that long cycle investment, design and manufacturing needs.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      That’s literally an insane proposal given the lack of efficient, widespread mass transit in so much of the U.S., and the therefore much higher dependency on gasoline powered passenger vehicles to get to work, school & grocery stores compared to most of Europe

      You’re proposing the most regressive tax on the middle class, working class & the poor imaginable.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Bumping up fuel prices by that much would slam the economy to a halt. Much of our productivity is based on cheap energy prices.

        I much prefer a system that enables to people to save money (and thus benefit the economy by spending it elsewhere) by consuming less rather than the govt simply taking it.

        More efficient cars is one way to do that. Better infrastructure is another. I am not opposed to a slightly higher gas tax to pay for what needs to be paid for, but I am not a fan of hurting people who have few alternatives.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        You could use the gas tax revenue to reduce FICA on low income earners or increase the EITC.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Playing on what you suggested, reduce FICA for all by point/half a point or so.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          I’d rather abolish FICA altogether and raise the income tax to make up for it.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            FICA is the one federal tax paid by all workers, unlike the income tax which is either fully refunded and/or issued credits to workers below a certain threshold. You’d have to reform the income tax in addition to raising it.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Why does it matter if all workers pay the tax? I don’t see the point in taxing people who are already in poverty.

            Presumably raising rates without corresponding increases in credits would cause the income tax to hit some lower-middle-class people who don’t have any income tax liability today. Maybe that will make you happy.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I would prefer some kind of tax simplification and a huge reduction in the size of Federal spending, but both are pipe dreams which would probably collapse the system as we know it. Ob*macare demonstrated they would rather go forward into an financial abyss then take a step back and work within some kind of fiscal reality. What was it Cheney said, deficits don’t matter?

        • 0 avatar
          TW5

          Why would you tie necessary reforms like EITC or payroll tax cuts to sumptuous taxation? It’s a political parlor trick to make people punish their fellow man, not a good way to offset tax cuts.

          Furthermore, increasing the EITC or reducing payroll taxes is self-funding if done properly. Raising labor force participation a few percentage points would bring a windfall of all kinds of taxes.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Thus my wish to use the proceeds to build more mass transit.

        I don’t want to keep supporting development patterns that result in people who can’t afford to drive being stuck way out in the sticks with no other way to get around. That results in safety problems and huge, inefficient government subsidies.

        Phase the tax in over time so that it’s not a giant shock.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          “Thus my wish to use the proceeds to build more mass transit.”

          This is a slippery slope. Sounds great in theory but what ends up happening in practice is transfer payments to municipal workers, unions, and to a lesser extent, welfare recipients. In some highly urban areas, the amount of people moved outweighs the cost society bears in transfer payments (i.e. NYC subway) but frequently I would believe it to be a net loss.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            We do need some reforms, particularly in capital project delivery. It costs way too much to build a subway tunnel now.

            But operationally, the systems are actually pretty efficient, particularly when you compare the expense per trip of an urban system with a rural roadway network (including all road maintenance costs).

            And you can’t have urban areas without mass transit. There’s just not enough room for everyone to place themselves into a 16×6 steel box.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I agree with your first point, with our own local “North Shore Connector” tunnel (with two whole stops in North Side) being evidence. But the North Shore Connector and the lesser known Wabash Tunnel are two big examples of the huge fail of public transit projects just from this area alone.

            “On the national level, the project attracted controversy due to its cost and its use of federal funding. The project’s original budget was estimated at $350 million,[10] but it increased to $435 million by 2006,[11] and to more than $550 million by 2009,[10] later revised down to $528.8 million in 2010.[3] (The final cost was $523.4 million.) Eighty percent of the funding was provided by the U.S. federal government.[11] The North Shore Connector was ranked #3 in the nation among stimulus-funded projects purported to waste taxpayer money in a report by Senators John McCain and Tom Coburn.”

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

            Just for some background, the Wabash Tunnel was a train tunnel built in 1903 for a railroad which later failed. Until the late 1940s it was used to ferry passengers into town by train via a bridge which was also built for the railroad. Once this was demolished the tunnel had odd purposes until reopening in 2005. The frequently bankrupt Port Authority -which also operates all public buses and a light rail network- spends $780,000 annually to operate this nearly disused tunnel today.

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

            “As for the humble Wabash Tunnel, most Pittsburghers have never heard of it and it’s a statistical certainty that most of them have never passed through its innards since it quietly opened in early 2005.

            Originally part of the grandiose “Airport Busway” plan, the tunnel’s rebirth is a textbook case of the confluence of dumb federal regulations, “free” federal transportation money, and criminally stupid local transit officials. As a local historian nicely explains and illustrates in “Pittsburgh’s Money Pit,” the tunnel has a long, sad and bankrupt life.

            To turn it into the Wabash HOV and make it suitable for car traffic, the Port Authority had to pour about $40 million in federal, state and local tax money into it. The ramps from the tunnel portals on each side of the hill to the existing road levels were about $10 million.

            Even if it had connected to an underused $326 million busway as planned, the Wabash would have been a waste of everyone’s money. As a stand-alone tunnel for cars under Mt. Washington, the hill that separates Downtown Pittsburgh from the city’s southern suburbs, it was and still is worthless.

            Paul Skoutelas, in 2005 the Port Authority’s Chief Exaggerating Officer, tried to justify the 3,600-foot tunnel by saying the Wabash HOV would alleviate commuter congestion on the Fort Pitt and Liberty bridges, the two main arteries into downtown from the south.

            That claim was always an absurdity bordering on a lie, since 200,000 vehicles a day used the two bridges in 2005 and the Wabash was projected at its peak – in 2015 — to handle a whopping 4,500 vehicles a day.

            That 4,500-car projection – a typical example of the phony projections Big Transit monopolies make when they justify their future fiascos – will only materialize if an earthquake closes off every other route from the south to downtown.

            Five years after it opened, the Wabash is what everyone knew it would be – a $40 million low-occupancy joke that costs the Port Authority of Allegheny County hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to maintain.”

            http://www.newgeography.com/content/001932-pittsburghs-tunnel-lov

            “And you can’t have urban areas without mass transit. There’s just not enough room for everyone to place themselves into a 16×6 steel box.”

            In this setting, the per-person transportation benefits might outweigh the costs depending on usage. But when you run nearly empty buses on a consistent basis to a variety of stops (again, the Port Authority) it becomes a net loss to society/taxpayers at large.

      • 0 avatar
        SunnyvaleCA

        “given the lack of efficient, widespread mass transit in so much of the U.S”

        But the reason we have such lack of mass transit is because gas has been so cheap for so long. If we had a slowly increasing federal fuel tax starting in the 1970s there would have been incentive to think of transportation options other than gasoline powered cars or at least think about how to use exiting car technology more efficiently. Part of the reason people are willing to live 50 miles from work is because they can cheaply hop in a truck and drive 75 MPH (at 20 MPG) 5 times a week. That’s not exactly efficient energy planning.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I suppose you could just say “sucks to be them” but an increase in the gas tax would harm those with lower incomes and non-flexible living situations the most.

    • 0 avatar
      cpthaddock

      Only if changes were made abruptly. Phase the changes in allowing everyone to make changes as heir situations and budgets allow would make the impact negligible.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      Higher gas prices go into the coffers of the oil producers, which disadvantages those you are concerned with, without addressing the crumbling infrastructure that causes more wear and tear on those same people’s methods of transportation.

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    ” low oil prices are far more productive than wars at keeping our enemies in check.”
    Got news for you.
    Putting economic screws to our adversaries will not prevent war.
    Putin will take what he wants of the Ukraine economic sanctions or not.
    China will act in its own national interests and sanctions be damned.
    Obama lives in an imaginary world that has never existed.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      So right on those points, especially the last.

    • 0 avatar
      cpthaddock

      Only if changes were made abruptly. Phase the changes in allowing everyone to make changes as heir situations and budgets allow would make the impact negligible.

    • 0 avatar
      cpthaddock

      By which you mean he lives in a civilized world… relatively speaking?

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Putting economic screws to our adversaries will not prevent war.

      Sure it will.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Didn’t I see that movie already and wasn’t it called the Pacific Theater of the Second World War? Putting the screws to Japan via an oil embargo accelerated the conflict.

        “The American oil embargo caused a crisis in Japan. Reliant on the US for 80% of its oil, the Japanese were forced to decide between withdrawing from China, negotiating an end to the conflict, or going to war to obtain the needed resources elsewhere.”

        http://militaryhistory.about.com/od/worldwarii/a/wwiipaccauses_2.htm

        “In 1940 Japan invaded French Indochina in an effort to embargo all imports into China, including war supplies purchased from the U.S. This move prompted the United States to embargo all oil exports, leading the Imperial Japanese Navy to estimate that it had less than two years of bunker oil remaining and to support the existing plans to seize oil resources in the Dutch East Indies. Planning had been underway for some time on an attack on the “Southern Resource Area” to add it to the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere that Japan envisioned in the Pacific.”

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

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          But, Japan had too little oil Russia, Iran, etc. have too much chasing too few buyers. It’s totally different.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            The US waged economic warfare against Japan via an embargo which resulted in a major conflict. Some argue this is happening again with Washington/Riyadh vs Moscow/Tehran. If the latter are pushed into an economic corner, proxy or even direct conflict may ensue. There’s a new one brewing to Saudi Arabia’s south in Yemen where Shiite rebels stole US funded weapons from the US backed gov’t.

            “The American-backed government of Yemen abruptly collapsed Thursday night, leaving the country leaderless as it is convulsed by an increasingly powerful force of pro-Iran rebels and a resurgent Qaeda.”

            http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/23/world/middleeast/yemen-houthi-crisis-sana.html?_r=0

            “BREAKING: Yemen’s foreign minister calls for Arab military intervention against advancing Shiite rebels.”

            https://twitter.com/AP/status/580696268072157184

            “Saudi Arabia is moving heavy military equipment including artillery to areas near its border with Yemen, U.S. officials said on Tuesday, raising the risk that the Middle East’s top oil power will be drawn into the worsening Yemeni conflict.

            The buildup follows a southward advance by Iranian-backed Houthi Shi’ite militants who took control of the capital Sanaa in September and seized the central city of Taiz at the weekend as they move closer to the new southern base of U.S.-supported President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

            The slide toward war in Yemen has made the country a crucial front in Saudi Arabia’s region-wide rivalry with Iran, which Riyadh accuses of sowing sectarian strife through its support for the Houthis.

            The conflict risks spiraling into a proxy war with Shi’ite Iran backing the Houthis, whose leaders adhere to the Zaydi sect of Shi’ite Islam, and Saudi Arabia and the other regional Sunni Muslim monarchies backing Hadi.”

            “Saudi Arabia faces the risk of the turmoil spilling across its porous 1,800 km (1,100 mile)-long border with Yemen and into its Shi’ite Eastern Province where the kingdom’s richest oil deposits lie.

            “The Saudis are just really deeply concerned about what they see as an Iranian stronghold in a failed state along their border,” U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Matthew Tueller told Reuters on Monday at a conference hosted by the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce in Washington.”

            http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/24/us-yemen-security-usa-saudi-idUSKBN0MK2S120150324

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      Depending on the size and power of a nation along with the flow of resources economic pressure can and has been proven to be far more effective than any kind of direct war. Putin already has begun to feel the pressure from low gas prices. China by contrast is a net importer, so why would cheap gas hurt them?

      I know…right-wing republicans and the chicken-hawk crowd want more wars, but when was the last time you signed up or were willing to put your children to the draft? I’ll take my commission as a captain in a field unit if you’re willing to be my grunt.

      • 0 avatar
        mkirk

        27 February 1995. I suppose I am what you’d call right wing. I’ve been 3 times now. I’ll likely go a 4th. Frankly I am a bit sick of all of the wars but funny thing is you keep electing people that keep on sending me to fight them (I say you because I have gone under Republicans and Democrats in both the White House and Congress so your actual party affiliation isn’t really relevant but I think I have a clue). You talk about it, you vote, and then you go back to watching TMC or Keeping up with the Kardashians for 4 more years. As a Captain in a line unit you’d likely be a Company Commander. So what, pray tell, have you done to qualify yourself to command 150 or so grunts in combat? But if your serious you can come be my LT next time? We may even let you look at the map and talk on the radio and pretend you are running something. I’m guessing I won’t see you at the Kabab shack in Kabul though.

  • avatar
    Brian P

    Scrap CAFE, implement a fuel surcharge that covers maintenance of the road infrastructure plus the societal costs (for example, the cost of cleaning up oil spills that was not borne by the companies involved). Isn’t that what the fuel surcharge (tax, if you will) was supposed to do in the first place?

    If there are any remaining subsidies or tax incentives for petroleum exploration, scrap those as well.

    Scrap EV subsidies while you are at it. The above fuel tax will let the market sort itself out. That the EVs won’t be contributing to road maintenance costs, is a problem that can be dealt with when the time comes, by doing exactly the same thing with electricity rates.

    Let the market decide.

    I will continue to use a small car as a daily-driver simply because I like small cars.

  • avatar
    Dan

    Road pricing needs to address two distinct and totally unrelated costs.

    First, the cost of the road itself. Personal vehicles don’t inflict meaningful wear and tear so what you’re buying here is almost entirely lane space. There’s no relation whatsoever to fuel usage and a correlation to miles driven would need to be done on a road by road, hour by hour basis to be meaningful.

    Second, the cost of dependence on foreign oil. The Gaia cultists can pretend that this includes the cost of soda bubbles in the air too. Obviously the only thing that matters here is fuel usage. CAFE explicitly ignores usage and so fails miserably here.

    One tax can’t reasonably address both of these. So the most fair answer is two taxes. A buck a gallon at the pump for energy security. And a buck an hour on the road to pay for the traffic you’re contributing to. Not that hours are a great measurement of use but they’re better than miles and I don’t trust the government with anything more specific.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      “so what you’re buying here is almost entirely lane space. There’s no relation whatsoever to fuel usage”

      Totally incorrect. Vehicles that use more fuel are almost always heavier (except for a tiny number of sports cars). Heavier vehicles take up more space and, more importantly, have a much higher impact on road condition.

      I won’t bother with your “second” point because if you don’t think rising CO2 concentrations are a problem by now nothing will ever convince you.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        Heavier vehicles take up more space? So you keep a longer following distance behind a Jeep than you do a Camry? You can get three Camrys through a 10 second turn light but only two Jeeps?

        Keep them coming!

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          If the Jeep driver is driving safely, he will follow at a greater distance than a Camry driver.

          And, yes, a Suburban takes up a whole lot more road space than a Versa. It also does more damage to the roadway.

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            I don’t believe many Jeep or Camry drivers are, much less should be, driving public roads at 7/10. At safe and reasonable speeds there is no difference in safe following distances. At gridlock speeds where most of the road dollars go there’s no difference in possible following distances.

            The fourth power rule of road damage has been posted here many times. Wear comes from heavy commercial trucks. A Suburban does more damage than a Versa but the entire spectrum of passenger vehicles rounds to zero.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    This is really a two part “thing” that is being brought up here.

    How to raise fuel economy in the real world? (Not just the EPA lab.)

    How to pay for our infrastructure?

    I’m one of those people who think that we do need to find a more direct way of paying for our roads and bridges because they are falling apart and not keeping up with demand.

    The fuel economy part of CAFE never really worked from the standpoint that it was designed to accomplish. When proposed the government thought that buying habits would remain the same (sedans, coupes, and wagons) and if they just raised that mpg everything would be fine.

    Well we darn Americans want what we want and don’t care if the manufacturers call it an SUV, CUV, or crew cab pickup truck. The great irony of the intention of CAFE was that the American buying public switched from Impalas in the 70s to crew cab Siverados in the 2000s. Net effect on fuel economy – very small.

  • avatar
    harshciygar

    A higher gas tax hurts the poor unfairly, as a greater percentage of their income now goes to simply moving from Point A to Point B.

    Let’s just do what China does, and level a tax based on engine size at the point of sale. Do you really need the 5.0 V8 for your F-150? No? Then get the 3.0 liter V6 and avoid the tax.

    We now live in an age where a 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine and churn out over 300 horsepower.

    This would have the combined effect of “punishing” people who opt for less efficient cars, without harming poor people.

    That gas tax does need to go up. But $2 a gallon? That’d push a lot of poor people off a fiscal cliff.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      You start taxing displacement and I’m jumping on the diesel bandwagon to get my torque back. Oh wait we made full circle to J.B. editorial from yesterday.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Displacement taxes are absurd, because displacement has little to do with fuel usage. 5.0 V8 taxed to oblivion? Do like Mercedes, and huff 28 psi of boost into your 2.0L four. Same power, almost the same fuel usage.

      Bringing back the horsepower tax might make marginally more sense.

    • 0 avatar
      eManual

      Displacement tax can be reduced by using turbos, as is done in Europe. A horsepower tax is somewhat more fair, as it doesn’t demand what type of technology is used. And point-of-sale taxes are very limited on raising money, and reduce the number of new car sales. So if you raise taxes yearly on the amount of horsepower, you also push the poor.

  • avatar
    mu_redskin

    I would put this more in terms of NAFTA and the cost of Defense spending. Oil produced in NAFTA – US, Canada, Mexico – little to no tax. Oil that must be imported – tax it a lot and apply it to our defense spending as the international oil industry is who is the user of of our military. Think of this as a toll road – you pay for the toll road, why not fund the military this way?

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      The US currently has a tax on tanker loads of oil to pay for oil spills. In theory we could have a tax on oil divered by tanker to pay part of our Navy cost. That would make oil shipped by water more expensive than oil delivered by pipelines.

  • avatar
    TW5

    The gas tax fantasy is pure pap, conjured by vaguely economic soothsayers who understanding nothing of its rancorous effects on society. Gas tax would create needless cost-push inflation, while simultaneously suppressing demand and production of fossil fuels. Amazing deadweight loss. Furthermore, gasoline tax would heap further injury upon the the lower-classes, particularly the fixed income elderly, and the injury is compounded by the lack of public transit options in most places.

    Gas tax fails on a philosophicla level because the negative externality of pollution is related to the social benefit of economic activity. Taxation hits both indiscriminately, which is why the only salient gasoline tax proposals are accompanied by substantially lower-middle class tax cuts, like Krauthammer’s proposed payroll tax cut, which aims to improve labor force participation.

    In the pantheon of economic policy, CAFE isn’t necessarily bad, but the lazy, ham-fisted attempts at CAFE regulation have proven problematic. First, sedans were replaced by pickups and SUVs. Now we are on the brink of eliminating affordable economy cars and Bof offroad vehicles, which both serve important consumer/business segments.

    The biggest problem is that the Obama administration has tried to convert CAFE from a fail-safe measure into an agent for industry reorganization. CAFE only works as a fail-safe. If you want to reorganize the industry, you have to pay consumers and companies to build different products.

    CAFE should be converted back into a fail-safe. Eliminate footprint regulations. 30mpg combined for a manufacturer’s car fleet. 25mpg for light trucks. 23mpg for a new special-duty class for Bof light trucks with at least one solid axle. Then spend a dedicate a decent amount of money to populist programs that help middle class individuals purchase fuel efficient vehciles.

    • 0 avatar
      Driver8

      I’d eliminate the footprint rules as well, but roll all passenger (non commercial use) vehicles into one mpg standard across the fleet.

      And index the gas tax to inflation, but otherwise leave it alone.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    Just scrap CAFE all together. If anything it’s responsible for more problems than it created. It created the SUV craze in the US.

    When you look at what finally broke OPEC’s back, it was “drill, baby, drill”, it wasn’t Hybrids or electric cars. The explosion in domestic production has OPEC on the run. Now we have nearly double the domestic production over the last decade and we don’t have to bow to Saudi kings (sometimes literally) to produce more oil for our nation.

    I’d be fine with a higher gas tax IF it was offset by say something like a reduction in the payroll tax as I prefer government spending on infrastructure than entitlements. I’m not for a higher gas tax just because at this point in time it’s more “affordable”.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I would do whatever it takes to be able to buy a big V8 car I can actually see out of.

    But then I realize that deleting CAFE won’t delete miserable pedestrian safety regulations or insane auto designers from existence. :(

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Your best hope is to try to find a clean B/C/D body GM car from the late 80s and drop an LSX in it. That will get you a big car with a powerful V8 that you can see out of.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        That does sound like a fantastic idea.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        A guy a couple of streets over from me has a mint Impala SS. The real one from the mid 90s with the LT1, not the FWD Accord lookalike from 2006. Burgundy. The original brushed wheels with truck sized sidewalls. Original everything.

        Every time I see it, I think that this may be the golden age of trucks but the golden age of cars has already sailed.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    Let’s see. Pre-CAFE, my dad would go out to buy a car in the 1970s and come back with a 12 mpg 350 c.i. monster that handled like a beach ball, only put out 150 hp, and was good for 100,000 miles before being junked.

    Now I can buy a car with the same usable space, 300+ hp that gets 30+ mpg real-world and costs me less in real dollars, and can do a quarter million miles with no noticeable decrease in performance.

    This is what people are complaining about?

    The best is when people use the Hellcat as an example of how CAFE is bad. Because pre-CAFE cars all got mid-20s hwy mpg and 700 hp?

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      Correlation does not equal causation. Technology marches on. Before CAFE there was no iphone.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I know what you’re saying, but I can’t imagine that someone who overlooked the microprocessor revolution’s impact on every field is going to put it together.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          I’m an old guy who goes back to before the days when engines and emissions were controlled and managed by microprocessors. The days of carburetors and points.

          Things like emissions may be better now with all the electronics incorporated into cars, but I am not a fan, even though I am forced to use it and partake in this transition.

          When cars of today fail or breakdown, And they do!, you can’t rig them to where they run so you can safely get to the nearest watering hole.

          Over the 3.5 decades living in the desert I have picked up numerous stranded motorists along US54 and US70 whose vehicles failed them because of some electronic malady. And I’m not the only driver that has done so.

          Most often, those vehicles quit running for one reason or another, usually induced by desert heat.

          Since only three things contribute to combustion, fuel, air and spark, one can only surmise that the electronics went kaput.

          Never did I give anyone a ride who ran out of gas, but many had no drinking water with them. And that is just plain stupid.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @HDC

            And that is a problem for you and the other half dozen wingnuts who live in the desert in the middle of nowhere.

            The rest of us like our highly computerized, highly efficient cars that almost never, ever actually break down.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            krhodes1, the people who break down anywhere on the roads do not all drive old cars.

            It’s one thing to break down near civilization with help readily available. Quite another to break down along some lonely stretch of highway.

            There are nice aspects about computerization and vehicle management, but it doesn’t matter how anyone feels about that because it is the way of the future. Look how far we’ve come since carburetors and points.

            Back in 2012 I got a call on my cell phone from my best bud. His wife’s 2012 Grand Cherokee was acting up on the road, wouldn’t keep running, went into limp-home mode and the Check Engine Light stayed on.

            So I got out onto US54 and went looking for her, talked to her on my cell phone and she told me which milepost marker she was passing, and when I intercepted her, followed her to the Jeep dealer for the drop-off.

            Turns out, the dealer had to (twice) reflash the Engine Management firmware before the light went off and the engine would stay running. This over a period of three days.

            Who expects that from a vehicle with less than 4000 miles on the odo?

            BTW, bes!des a lot of wingnuts, we also have groundpounders and swabbies living out here in the desert.

            I recently moved into town from the desert and I’m meeting all sorts of people everywhere I go, many I haven’t seen since my wingnut days.

            Small world.

            I wish I could say I like living in town but the boombox cars driving down the streets can be quite distracting, especially at 2am. And that’s not even mentioning the car alarms that go off at all hours of the day or night.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @HDC

            YOU might be able to jury-rig a carbs and points car on the side of the road, and I certainly can (BTDT with my Spitfire back when it still had points), but even back in the days when that sort of thing was common 95%+ of the driving populace did not have a clue. To the average person, cars might as well run on moonbeams and magic for all the understanding they have of what is under the hood. Thus we are all far, far, far better off in cars that are about 10000% more reliable to start with, and computerized fuel injection and other modern technologies provides that.

            Yes, very, very, very occasionally brand new modern cars break down and get towed. My Mom’s Prius-V had to be towed due to a no start (actually a no boot up) when it was only a year old, and that is just about the most reliable car you can buy. But it is such a vanishingly rare occurrence to break down on the road that it almost doesn’t even bear considering. A modern car in limp mode is usually still driveable, just not very nicely. But it will still limp you back to civilization.

            Ultimately, you do need to have some preparation for emergencies. I had extra warm clothing and blankets in my truck for my 250 mile trip to the ends of the earth in sub-zero cold here in Maine last month. Along with some tools and supplies. I’ll put NorthernEastern Maine in winter up against the desert southwest as a bad place to be stranded any day. You may not be as FAR from the next town, but it is just as desolate, no cell coverage, and a whole lot colder.

            It sounds like you need to move to a nicer town. I recommend Maine, though you might find it a tad cold. We have cops that actually enforce noise ordinances. Never an issue with booming stereos or car alarms, even when I lived in downtown Portland. There is nothing that gets a bored out of his mind local cop more excited than hassling a HS kid with a big subwoofer. :-)

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            krhodes1, wow, Maine! Only been there a couple of times. Flew in from Europe and went through Customs at Bangor International, in the middle of the winter. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!

            Yeah. I’m more of the desert rat variety of auto enthusiast. I married a girl from Cloudcroft. Mountain country. Her family’s business is here. Been everywhere as a wingnut, done everything I cared to do.

            Nah, thanks for the invite, but I think I’ll stay here. If things get too bad, we can always move to another one of our rentals when the German Luftwaffe occupants rotate back to Germany at the end of their tour here.

            We have introduced ourselves to our neighbors and ALL of them are retired military or widows of retired military. Several I knew from my active duty days, but had not seen since I retired in 1985. So for us it is a matter of adjusting to civilization around us, rather than the quiet of the desert.

            I’m surprised to learn about your mom’s Prius. There are a lot of them in my area and I have not heard of, or seen any Prius that broke down or required anything other than recommended periodic maintenance.

            I run around in my $1 1989 Camry V6 these days since my son is using my Tundra. He leaves me his 2012 Grand Cherokee SRT8 but I am tickled with that little Camry. It isn’t much good for anything except scooting about town, but that it still runs, and runs so well, is a very pleasant surprise to me.

            The SRT8 scares me. It is too sensitive to gaspedal input, even from just one of my toes.

          • 0 avatar
            mkirk

            I have had all of one electronic control module failure in all of my years of driving. It was ironically in a Toyota. Electronics are vastly more simple than troubleshooting acres of vacuum line. Hell the computer will generally tell you what is broken and there are very few sensors that can actually make a car fail to run. The camshaft position sensor on my Dad;s old 98 Ranger comes to mind. Yes my mothers VW suffered all manner of sensor failures but the car ran albeit with a dash that looked like the Vegas Strip with all of the lights on.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            The thing with the Prius-V was weird. One morning she went to run an errand and it just wouldn’t wake up. Had power, the lights would turn on etc, but pushing the start button did not a thing. No error or anything, just dead. Dealer towed it in, flashed the computers to the latest firmware and it has been fine ever since. They said they had seen it once or twice before. Has had a couple other minor issues, squawky rear brakes, a bad strut bearing (she probably hit a pothole or something). No big thing, that is why new cars come with warranties. I don’t hold it against it, I expect it to be a perfectly fine car in the long run. And assuming she doesn’t hit anything too hard, I expect her to have it for a long, long time. Perfect fit for her, and 45mpg. Deal of the century really, as long as you don’t care that it drives like a really slow video game.

            I really don’t care for cars with stupid horsepower levels. Anything over 300 or so just feels like too much commotion to me. You have to think about it too much, though modern nannies help. I figure my wagon is about right. 0-60 in 6, which is fast enough to be entertaining without getting into trouble. My new car will be interesting to say the least, with 320hp and sh!tloads more torque down low. 0-60 in <5. The nannies will remain engaged, as a Baruth I am not behind the wheel.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Ha, funny, because I’m no Baruth either. I am now too old and too slow.

          • 0 avatar
            hybridkiller

            I too am old enough to have spent a fair amount of time under hood constantly adjusting points, replacing burned points, rebuilding carburetors every 50K, doing a valve job every 80-100K (due to carburetor inability to optimize fuel mixture), etc.

            I wouldn’t go back to that if you paid me (well, maybe if you paid me enough…)

    • 0 avatar
      jacob_coulter

      And all the other nations that don’t have CAFE regulations also have cars that can accomplish that.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        CAFE apparently gave it to them too. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        When have Americans ever been concerned with what sold in other markets?

        Other nations have CAFE equivalents. European CO2 regs are fuel economy regs. Japan taxes higher displacement engines. It’s not a US-only thing.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Those regs make those cars more difficult and expensive to produce too. They exist in small numbers spite of the regulations because there are those who have the means to pay the inflated price.

        • 0 avatar
          jacob_coulter

          If CAFE had never been introduced, we would still have cars that got 30 mpg.

          Most of the fuel economy gains are just from car makers using fuel injection and overdrive transmissions, technology that was around well before CAFE was introduced. And the microprocessor took it further.

          Consumers worldwide wanted more fuel efficient offerings as energy prices increased for a variety of reasons. Technology allowed car makers to give consumers what they wanted. Simple as that. If you ended CAFE tomorrow and a car maker introduced a vehicle that had 150hp and got 12 mpg, it would be a market failure.

          In the meantime, regs like CAFE made consumers in the US go to SUVs and created a whole new segment that got even worse fuel economy.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            That’s a very good point. Even a huge old Cadillac will pick up a few MPGs with just an overdrive transmission and a Megasquirt EFI system. It won’t be a Prius, but…still.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            I’m not convinced that there would be a US auto industry without CAFE. Even with CAFE (weak as it is), the Big 3 held-on to carbs and 3-speed automatics longer than anyone else. They always favored short-term savings over long-term gains: riding high when gas is cheap and the economy is moving, and begging and crying when times are tougher, asking for handouts and tariffs.

            Does anybody still believe that they would have sorted-out their own mess without the Government (aka “We the people”) kicking their backsides? Not a chance. Without CAFE, American cars would be quaint curiosity items, like American television sets. Or Bristish cars.

          • 0 avatar
            jacob_coulter

            Considering 2 of the Big 3 have gone bankrupt (and one did it twice) with a massive taxpayer gift being the only reason they are still around, not sure CAFE as a savior for the Big 3 is a very strong argument.

            Many of their loss leaders are small cars they have to build in order to manufacture profitable vehicles like trucks and SUVs.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Bingo on your second point.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            “Many of their loss leaders are small cars they have to build ”

            That’s just GM BS. The two most popular and profitable cars in the world are the Corolla and the Golf. If you’ve ever taken a small GM car apart (and if you grew up in the US you probably have had to), you can see why GM’s small cars are loss leaders: they are fussy, poorly engineered designs that are uncompetitive. A Toyota dash is a simple unit that can be removed in a few minutes. A GM dash is a spaghetti factory of wires and brackets borne of a confused and deranged mind, a loveless marriage of countless different types of poorly designed connectors and fasteners, most of which are single-use (if they didn’t break on the assembly line). No wonder their cars aren’t profitable: they cost a lot more to make, are less reliable, and the smart money avoids them like the plague.

            No wonder most Americans yearn for the simplicity of cars without electronics: they’ve all grew up with GM cars. Pop a fresh battery in a junkyard Toyota and the power windows still work just fine…

        • 0 avatar

          The euros have a good stiff gas tax.

      • 0 avatar
        Chopsui

        Because every nation makes its own cars?

  • avatar
    Silverbird

    DK,

    Can’t really compare to Canada, since we get the worst of both worlds, The higher gas tax (~$4CAD or $3.20 USD per gallon at the moment)
    AND
    our vehicle selection is fully impacted by CAFE – since the number of vehicles we get that aren’t offered in the US can be counted on one hand (can’t think of anything beyond the Merc B class & Nissan Micra)

    Gas tax is a good way to influence behaviour and if the US was going to get it upped anytime soon, this current dip is the best time, and then have a set rate increase schedule, ie tax per gallon is going up 20 cents each Sept 30th from 2015 through to 2025.

    Also could expand the gas guzzler tax, so that it is more of a sliding scale and starts at higher MPGs so that it will capture more vehicles. Right now, it really only hits high dollar performance machines, where the $ impact is not a factor. Need to make it more of a purchasing decision. as an example, do I need the 5.7 Hemi or will the 3.6L work, and avoid $2k of guzzler tax
    “Just roll it into the financing”

  • avatar
    Duaney

    All taxes are a necessary evil, all government regulations are a necessary evil. Thus said, in the interest of a good economy, healthy car companies selling lots of vehicles, I would scrap CAFE, leave the fuel tax as it is, and simply add a sufficient import duty on all foreign oil. That will put Americans to work, lower our dependency on foreign oil, (and reduce finances going to the Middle East). We could arrange a special trade agreement with Canada or other favorable Country’s,if need be for our oil purchases there. A reduced volume of oil available will still motivate car companies to achieve better fuel economy, (without CAFE).

    • 0 avatar
      Master Baiter

      “All taxes are a necessary evil, all government regulations are a necessary evil.”

      You mean there are NO unnecessary taxes or regulations? If the government, in its infinite wisdom, decided to levy a special tax on people named Duane, would that be necessary?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Eliminate CAFE and the fuel tax.

    Instead, tax vehicles annually according to this formula:

    Road tax = GVWR x miles driven.

    This way, everyone pays fairly – EVs, heavy trucks, Hellcats, and the Prius driver.

    • 0 avatar
      Master Baiter

      Sounds like a boon for hackers rolling back odometers.

    • 0 avatar
      RS

      It is ironic that CAFE has the effect of minimizing gas usage which minimizes gas tax revenue. It would be best to eliminate a fuel tax as it becomes more meaningless as CAFE efforts become effective.

      Raising Fuel taxes with the idea of more revenue works would work the short term, but it’s regressive affect means those extra dollars won’t exist long as people and regulations find ways to use less. That means they’ll be back for more when habits/equipment. See those looking to raise current gas taxes for proof.

      Pay for use is clearly the best idea, but there probably has to be some mechanism for income disparity coupled with it.

      Maybe GVWR x miles driven x (income x .00001). With $100K incomes paying full tax. Those earning more would pay more. ($100K is an example.)

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    “How would I reform CAFE?”

    I’d douse the law in premium, set it on fire, and put it out with my own urine.

    And I wouldn’t raise gas taxes. If more money is needed for roads, there’s plenty of other useless spending that can be cut.

  • avatar
    George B

    The first thing I would do to improve CAFE would be to change the test cycle to more closely match real world driving conditions. I’d take measurements from a representative sample of vehicles on the road and try to come up with a test cycle that matches average real world results. The improved test cycle would include higher top speeds to capture the effect of aerodynamic drag and more acceleration and braking in the city cycle.

    One could argue that CAFE has recently been fairly successful in forcing auto manufacturers to make the average ordinary cars and trucks people buy more efficient. It’s unrealistic to expect CAFE to do more than place a higher priority on energy efficiency in automotive engineering. It’s not going to force American consumers to buy small cars.

    My 2014 Accord says it traveled 31.8 mpg this morning despite morning stop and go traffic on the President George Bush Turnpike. 70 mph to stop, repeat cycle. CAFE forced Honda to use electric power steering, a CVT, and a direct injection 4 cylinder engine to improve fuel economy and that combination seems to work fairly well for my commute.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    I think we need to either get rid of or de-emphasize CAFE, and increase the gas tax, preferably as part of a plan that taxes all carbon-based fuel. I would make the new gas tax based on the price of gas rather than the amount of fuel. The amount of tax could be based upon a consumption/savings goal or revenue target for road construction and repair or a hybrid of the two.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    “But, between CAFE and fracking we’ve really put the screws to Iran, Venezuela and Russia. I’m all for the free market but we also have geopolitical enemies that need to be dealt with and low oil prices are far more productive than wars at keeping our enemies in check.”

    The problem with that is that there’s the entire rest of the world buying every drop of oil Iran and Russia pump out; China and India, not to mention Europe, use a lot of oil, and will continue to use more.

    Yeah, increased production and the moderately decreased use we get from CAFE in its modern incarnation has an effect – but it’s not Crippling Our Adversaries; the US is not the sole buyer.

    It’s the largest, but not by a big enough factor to make it the market ruler; China imports nearly as much oil as the US (over 80% as much), and Japan all by itself imports about 2/3 as much as the US. Europe as a whole imports as much oil as the US, roughly and at a glance.

    The biggest recent effect on Russia, as I understand it, is increased *natural gas* production, to get their claws off Europe and cripple Gazprom. It’s hard to threaten Eastern Europe with shutting off the pipelines when they have other sources, after all.

    [Remember also that to an extent, lower prices means more recreational driving. This gets noted in the reporting every year, as if it’s a surprise that people take fuel costs into consideration in their activities! This also means that CAFE has a more limited impact on total consumption.]

    (Venezuela, while a ruined dictatorship, also has decrepit oil infrastructure, and is not super important, especially as a “threat”.

    It’s the 12th largest oil producer in the world … and sinking every year due to deferral of maintenance on the oil production equipment, as far as I understand it.)

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I do believe if a commodity like oil is considered too cheap and its use is viewed to high the only way to affect supply and demand is to increase the cost of the commodity to curb it’s use, increased taxation at what ever level is suitable to produce the desired outcome.

    The problem is if fuel is being used in to large a quantity for what ever reason, motor vehicles are not the conduit to use to lower fuel usage. Fuel is a far easier consumer product to control than the complexities of vehicle design, manufacture and distribution and all of the industrial welfare/protection/etc that goes with the management of these models.

    Fuel is the problem, not the vehicles. The price of fuel will determine the vehicle makeup that is economically viable in a nation.

    Irrespective of what nation this idea is put to, the general populace would be upset. Wanting cheap energy isn’t just a US issue.

    I also see using tax would be the cheapest model and most effective model. There would be many civil servant positions removed from the EPA who manage CAFE and all the government grants (subsidies) that goes into propping up artificially different vehicle segments, whether it be EV, pickups, etc. There would be less government backed research into technology into pie in the sky ventures.

    This would free up more tax dollars to pay down the nations debt or use the money in better ways that is more beneficial to the economy.

    The US needs to reduce business tax. This tax is an ideal way to pass on tax cuts for business as a trade off in removing CAFE and the protectionism/handouts to the US automotive industry, ie chicken tax.

    Also, money would be made available to invest back into transport infrastructure.

    As for regulatory controls. I do think regulatory controls are a necessity in some instances, ie, emissions, safety, etc.

    All regulatory controls must be in place to not disadvantage the consumer.

    If we protect the individual/consumer there will always be a viable industry. Industrial welfare is worse than social welfare.

    A whole raft of regulatory controls used in the US auto industry needs to be restructured as well as CAFE.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    It would cost maybe 40 cents per gallon to get rid of the general tax revenue subsidy. Set it at 50 cents, index it to construction costs, use the excess to gradually attack the back log of maintenance.

    Sanitize the overall tax effect on working people by doubling the child tax credit.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    I hate to break it to Hummer and all the other people who choose to drive inefficient vehicles, but the best answer of all the options presented is an increase in the gas tax.

    The gas tax is easiest way of collecting the tax based on use (gallons, if not miles) at point of sale without any tracking. In previous discussions of CAFE, the consensus from the big truck crowd has always been that “if I can afford to buy a big vehicle and pay for the fuel to run it, the Government shouldn’t be in the business of restricting my choice.”

    By replacing CAFE standards with a higher gas tax (with the caveat that gas tax money is used for roadwork only) you’re effectively getting your wish. You can drive whatever gas guzzler you choose. You’ll just have to pay.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Jimal, people who choose to drive whatever it is they choose to drive will pay any amount of money to fuel those vehicles, no matter what the cost. We saw this when gas was $5/gallon.

      Raising taxes on anything, even consumption taxes, punishes the populace disproportionately, with those who can least afford it bearing the greater burden.

      Now that gas is relatively cheap from where it used to be, my wife and I eat out at least two meals each day, seven days a week. Because we can. We actually have money left over at the end of each month.

      We keep crackers and some oatmeal in the cupboards for late-night hunger attacks and our stove hasn’t been used in weeks. Judging from all the other people we see at the places where we eat, others are doing the same thing.

      And I am certain that the places where we eat out, appreciate our business and contribution much more than the federal, state and local governments who would be levying the taxes.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Higher gas taxes become moot as fuel economy rises.

      As an EV driver, I pay no gas taxes. But if I did, my 120 MPGe would amount to $55/year in Pennsylvania. I’m sure my 3400-lb Leaf does more road damage than that every year.

      But to your point, people driving gas guzzlers are already paying more – this is not new. In PA, gas taxes already amount to about 25% of the price of gas. What would you have it be, and why would it make any long-term difference?

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        And state registration and renewal is also considerably higher for gas guzzlers and heavies.

      • 0 avatar
        Jimal

        That has been the problem; as vehicles become more efficient, less gas taxes are collected. If you eliminate CAFE, fuel efficiency becomes a market force and not a government mandate. Electric cars will be an issue, but in the short term they are but a small pertange of cars on the road. the only thing I can think of is requiring separating charging circuits in homes with electric cars; with the car charging rate including a fuel tax equivalent surcharge.

  • avatar
    Adamatari

    I’m tempted to say, “let’s take out ALL the regs until the idiots who talk about the free market come screaming back for them (between coughs from all the air pollution)”. Seriously, CAFE, CARB, and other regulations have done a world of good. Not perfect, but good.

    In term of the real world? First things first, kill the emissions exemptions for school buses and in fact make them hit much harder targets. The kids get hurt worst.

    I would rather have a category for utility vehicles vs. passenger vehicles (we destroyed the light trucks because we put them in with cars, which led to huge trucks of today). Lump the F150 in with the Transit Connect and Transit. Rather than footprint-based it should be based on sales to consumers vs. businesses… There are individuals that need F150s, but even family farms are incorporated now. If your vehicle is being USED as a passenger vehicle it should get lumped in with the other passenger vehicles.

    So most F150 sales would count against Ford for my version of CAFE. They could sell it that way but it would lower their numbers (just like the GT 350 or performance car of the day).

    I do think much more focus should be put on industrial vehicles (from light industry vans to semis to bulldozers). They use much more fuel and often face lighter emissions regulation. A plan of slow but continuous improvement would do a lot of good. And in fact, SLOW but CONTINUOUS should be the motto of all these types of regulations. CAFE was left toothless for too long and only got going again because we hit a period of high oil prices which made stricter rules politically possible. Rather than that, carmakers should know that every vehicle is expected to outdo earlier vehicles, even if only by 5% or less.

    Realistically, we’ll burn it until we can’t. No amount of regulation will change that, though CAFE has actually done a lot to allow our current prosperity by forcing carmakers to innovate and become more efficient vs the 1970s. At some point, oil prices will rise again and the cycle will begin again.

    We have cheap gas NOW. NOW is not forever. It will cycle up, it will cycle down. If we don’t have efficient vehicles the cycles of expensive gas are that much more damaging to the economy.

    Ideally we would intentionally head toward a solar/wind/hydro economy with electric cars. Realistically that will either happen due to high oil prices or solar and electric cars getting cheaper than the alternative. Basically, it’s a race between oil companies, traditional automakers, and associated industries vs. solar and wind companies and electric car makers.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    I strongly favor using some sort of a gas tax to replace the proliferation of measures intended to reach the same end. However the idea does have flaws.

    Measures that are piecemeal attempts to achieve the same thing include:
    – mileage regulations
    – cash for clunkers schemes
    – subsidies for ev’s etc.

    One downside, often mentioned, is that ev’s won’t pay this tax. But presumably, one way or another, they pay whatever taxes are applied to electricity. And that taxation does or should reflect the means of generation. Which means the “gas” tax should be a “fuel” tax.

    Another problem is that whatever the gas/fuel tax is used to fund, will lose funding to whatever extent the tax successfully discourages use of the gas/fuel. What do you do then? Keep raising the tax rate as revenue from it falls?

    Something that should be considered is a different fuel tax for different vehicles. Vehicles would have bar codes or rft’s read by the pump, and each vehicle could be levied a different gas tax depending on factors such as weight. Heavier vehicles could pay a higher rate than lighter ones per unit of fuel.

  • avatar
    markf

    It amazes how many people think the answer to almost anything is new taxes. It’s never cut spending, or waste, or doing things more efficiently or looking at the insane pension/healthcare obligations cities and states incur. Its always “take more money from me and my fellow citizens, we trust the government to do the right thing” If you want to pay more taxes the please do so, no gov. will say no

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      While we are sitting here, pissing and moaning about taxes and waste and special interests, our increasingly third world transportation system continues to crumble around us. I don’t like paying taxes either, but if I can pay a specific tax for a specific product I use, and those funds are used to maintain – and I dare I say improve – the infrastructure we all use and rely on? Sign me up.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @Jimal

        This is why I am all for toll roads, now that we have the technology to collect the tolls in a highly efficient manner (ez-pass, etc). The Maine Turnpike is the best maintained road in the state, by far, and it turns a nice profit thanks to the tourists. If you commute on it regularly, they automatically give you a big discount. If you don’t want to pay, don’t use it. Have fun slogging up Rt1 in the summer though.

  • avatar
    50merc

    “To tax and be fair [or intelligent], no more than to love and be wise, is not given to man.” Nevertheless… CAFE should be killed with a stake through the heart. Weight crushes roads, so registration/license fees should reflect vehicle weight. Miles driven also wears out roads, so fuel taxes should pay for maintenance. Federal role should be to collect fuel taxes and return them to states on the basis of Interstate miles.

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    How would I reform CAFE? I wouldn’t reform it. I would eliminate it, among other federally mandated standards (which can and should be privatized).

    Look at UL (Underwriters Laboratories), ANSI (American National Standards Institute), NSF (a diverse standards organization formerly known as the National Sanitation Foundation), et al. They are all private nonprofit organizations that do their jobs well in regards to testing and setting standards that manufacturers voluntarily adopt.

    The best thing is that private, nonprofit standards institutes are all funded from companies and organizations that opt to get a fair and unbiased evaluation of the product or service they are selling. There are no taxes, fines, penalties or fees involved.

    You don’t meet the standard? You’re not certified. You’re still welcome to make available the uncertified product and service without the backing of the accredited certifier. In a free market, people will collectively make the decisions and decide what’s important to them in the form of consumerism, not the government.

    The free market should always be the one propelling business to accomplish a goal or a motive, not the force of government. Let the consumers decide, let the auto manufacturers decide. I’m willing to bet that the emission situation will be just fine if our government was excused from the room.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      “I’m willing to bet that the emission situation will be just fine if our government was excused from the room.”

      That’s pretty funny, because we already tried it. The result was Los Angeles in 1968.

      http://cires.colorado.edu/files/1113/8150/6776/LA.jpg

  • avatar
    bcnqrgd

    Double the current tax rate and then convert that to a percentage Federal Sales Tax rate on fuels.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I fix CAFE really easy.

    -Every 0.1L passed 2.2L = +$1000 tax
    -Every Cyl passed 4 cyl = +$1000 tax

    -To purchase a truck or work van – must present prove of ownership of business or a letter in government-approved format, from qualifying business.

    So, lets calc.
    If you drive 18mpg vehicle 15K/year, 10 years = 8,333 Gallons; x $3/G = $25,000

    +$2/G tax
    If you drive 18mpg vehicle 15K/year, 10 years = 8,333 Gallons; x $5/G = $41,665

    Lets calc my proposal: if this car is 3.5L v6 – it will add $15,000, which is comparable to 16,665 on the per gallon basis. But in my system, the only punished people will be those that buy guzzlers. Government will not like that – they want punish everyone.

  • avatar
    ilkhan

    0: kill every road, registration, and gas tax
    1: decide which particular emissions you want to remove (co2, nox, whatever the fuck)
    2: Insert sniffer in tailpipe
    3: run on dyno at top gear at 100mph
    4: subtract current mileage from mileage 1 year ago
    5: multiply each emission element by its cost multiplied by the mileage difference
    6: send a bill

    No bullshit over size, weight, or vehicle class. Just a straight tax per emission per mile.
    Drive an electric? No tax.
    Drive a clean car? Low tax.
    Drive a dirty car? High tax.
    Drive a lot of miles? High tax.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    I am not going to wade through 163 comments. I am sure it has been said before. Consider tha a kind of a vote. Tax the hell out of it like in Europe, and plow that tax money back into providing the world class roads the “richest nation on earth” deserves.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    If I ruled the world, we would simply have gas taxed to a reasonable level. $8 a gallon should do it. I would phase it in over a long enough period of time to allow for the fleet to adjust to it.

    Since that is not going to happen, then just make CAFE simple. None of this silly “footprint” crap or averaging imports separately or trucks separately or whatever. One target, make it or pay a big fat penalty that you can pass to your customers or eat, maker’s choice. If you want your business model to be selling 20mpg trucks, fine, but that will be $10K per vehicle sold penalty please. If they are profitable enough that you can eat that, good for you! If not, pass it along to your customer. Sell all the big fat trucks and Hellcats you want, but if you can’t manage to sell some really fuel efficient vehicles to offset them you are going to pay.

    This all assumes we even have a societal desire to minimize or reduce energy consumption. I don’t really care, I’ll be dead long before it will be an issue, and I don’t plan to breed.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      It’s the typical knee jerk “solution” to a complicated question.

      So what about the Corolla commuter spending an extra 4 or $5,000 dollars annually at $8 a gallon? What did she or he do to deserve it? Or how inflated product/service prices will get. That all has to be passed on to the consumer on top of higher fuel bills.

      The bad actors are easy to spot. Hit them at the DMV every year plus a lump sum to transfer title. And it’s not as if bureaucrats wouldn’t raid a new gas tax for special projects plus other crap that has nothing to do with roads infrastructure.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @DiM,
        Did you actually read his comment?

        I do think he stated the tax would be gradually incremented.

        So, the guy with the Corolla now doesn’t have a Corolla then.

        I do agree with his theory, but not the amount of tax.

        The amount of tax should be equal to the money saved from CAFE’s and the other prohibitive tariffs, barriers, etc removal, also from my perspective along with the rest of the costly penalties that the US taxpayer is forking out to maintain a distorted vehicle market.

        That money raised which should be around double the cost of propping up the US auto industry should then pay down debt and/or reduce company tax and/or fix up and expand transport infrastructure in the US.

        The average US citizen wouldn’t be paying any more or less to drive a vehicle like they do now.

        It would force a more competitive truck market and reduce prices even further.

        But, I’d be the government will only fiddle around the edges of CAFE. To dismantle CAFE would also affect other protective barriers, tariffs, etc.

        It will take a couple of decades to gradually bring the US vehicle market into line with the rest of the OECD, it’s competitors.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          @BAFO – What OECD nations push, is on them. Like with France basically gassing its citizens with raw diesel emissions. They can keep it.

          At least we have the freedom to drive what we want, when we want, to a certain degree.

          Who cares if it’s gradual or not? It’d still be stupid and wrong for the US on many levels. When fuel prices double, the gals/guys in Corollas pay twice too. Again, what did they do to deserve that? And Again, we know exactly who the offenders are. What’s up, Big Truck Series Review?

          If all tariffs were taken away, Honda, Nisan, Toyota, Hyundai, Mazda, Subaru, etc, would feel the most pain.

          But US tariffs and regulations certainly are not “propping” up US Big 3 OEMs. You’re confusing the US with OZ. Like when OZ took away insane tariffs and kicked the legs out of domestic OEM manufacturing and OZ specific cars/utes.

          Your other points are even less rational.

    • 0 avatar
      hybridkiller

      “This all assumes we even have a societal desire to minimize or reduce energy consumption. I don’t really care, I’ll be dead long before it will be an issue, and I don’t plan to breed.”

      Word. (and lmfao)

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    ITT: car enthusiasts that support higher fuel taxes?? What.

    I’m not an old guy by any means but what about freedom and free markets? You might argue Cafe provided an increased fleet average fuel economy, but there is no proof of this. You don’t know what things would look like if there hadn’t been Cafe. I might argue a few price shocks would be all it takes for people to change their behaviors. And if not, they live with their shortsightedness. That’s supposed to be how it works.

    Or look at other parts of cars that advanced tremendously without any mandates. Tires, brakes, handling, Airbags, stability control, advanced materials, radar Collison systems etc etc. Those all happened on their own. Would higher mpg also not have occurred on its own?

    And at what cost? To save $10 in fuel you throw on thousands in expensive gadgets, made with rare earth materials that are hard and environmentally damaging, often in countries also our “enemies” (I will leave how they because “enemies” alone). These gadgets then break costing a lot of money to fix replace etc etc etc.

    All this does is reduce personal and economic freedom, reduce living standards, reward those connected or waste money on pointless agencies that add nothing to the overall quality of life of the people.

    Get rid of all of this. Taxes should only cover the expenses of those who use the services. Anything else is, IMHO, just an unnecessary crimp on freedom to live your life in the manner you best see fit.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “You don’t know what things would look like if there hadn’t been Cafe. I might argue a few price shocks would be all it takes for people to change their behaviors.”

      Likely not terribly different. When fuel prices spike, people run in droves to more fuel efficient cars. For example in the 70’s before CAFE even took effect, then again in 2005-06 when CAFE hadn’t been modified in over 2 decades. If people didn’t want fuel efficient vehicles, they wouldn’t buy them. Even with pickup trucks, fuel economy is always one of the top reasons to buy. CAFE just proves that legislators will never let a good crisis go to waste.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The new version of CAFE indirectly mandates technological improvements that aren’t on the consumer’s radar before the fact. For example, there probably would not be an aluminum turbo pickup without it. Consumers probably end up with vehicles that are somewhat are more fuel efficient than what they would have purchased had those technological changes not been available.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      None of those things you mentioned happened without the long arm of legislation or regulation of one form or the other.

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