gas tax

Gas Pains: Taxpayers Are Running Low on Fuel

Pumping Gas

At a Gasman station just outside of Middletown, Connecticut, Democrat Sen. Chris Murphy’s constituents can fill up their tanks for $1.99 a gallon.

Drivers 966 miles away in Republican Sen. Bob Corker’s state of Tennessee can fill up their tanks at the old Pilot on Interstate-40 for less even less: $1.69 a gallon.

In 39 other states across the nation, drivers can find at least one station selling gas for less than two dollars while Americans enjoy the lowest gas prices in decades – and a couple extra Benjamins in their wallets from paying less at the pump.

Unfortunately, it appears that, for every step forward, taxpayers get shoved two steps back.

Recent proposals from a handful of Washington insiders, including Sens. Corker and Murphy, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), James Inhofe (R-Ok.), and John Thune (R-S.D.) have included gas tax hikes to fix the crumbling 59-year-old Highway Trust Fund (HTF), a source of revenue for the interstate highway fund that will expire in May.

Get Washington out of the way: Let states decide how transportation dollars will be spent

There another showdown on spending looming on Capitol Hill. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee gave its stamp of approval this afternoon to reauthorize the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act, the six-year, $265 billion transportation bill:

This bill reauthorizes the federal gas tax, which collects $34 billion a year. That would provide $204 billion over the next six years, which is not enough to pay for the projects the panel wants to fund.

The Senate Finance Committee will have to look at other funding mechanisms to make up the difference. 
The Senate measure would prevent the gas tax from expiring in the in the fall, if it is approved by the House and signed into law.

The House, however, has yet to take significant action on a transportation bill, and some observers are skeptical a deal could be carved out.

It’s less than the four-year, $302 billion transportation bill that President Barack Obama proposed in February. That proposal would have paid for the funding shortfall through the closing of corporate tax loopholes. Both proposals, however, are problematic because they still push a centralized approach to transportation, one that’s obviously broken given that the federal Highway Trust Fund doles out more than it receives in federal gas tax revenue.

Americans Opposed to Higher Gas Tax

gas pump

In his latest budget, President Barack Obama called for the elimination of tax deductions for oil and gas companies. This industry has been a constant target of the administration over the last four-plus years, so it’s not surprising that the White House would, once again, resort to the same old attacks.

While Americans may not understand the economics of this particular proposal and the impact it would have on them at the gas pump, showing how susceptible they are to the rhetoric of President Obama, they are clearly opposed to raising the gas tax at the state-level.

Maryland recently passed an increase in its gas tax, which will hit drivers with anywhere from a 13- to 20-cent increase in gas prices over the next three years. Other state legislatures may eventually try to pass increases of their own.

But according to a new Gallup poll, Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to gas tax increases in their states that could be used to finance road projects and expand mass transit options:

Two-thirds of Americans would oppose a law in their state that would increase the gas tax to help pay for road and bridge repairs, according to a new national poll.

GM: Tax Americans more so they’ll buy our cars

Since the auto bailout apparently was enough, General Motors wants more government favors to influence Americans into buying fuel efficent cars by increasing gas taxes to as much as $1 per gallon:

General Motors CEO Dan Akerson doesn’t think people are embracing fuel-efficient cars fast enough, and he’s got a brilliant solution to “nudge” consumers in the “right” direction: raise the federal gas tax by as much as one dollar per gallon.

You read that right. A dollar per gallon. It’s 18.4 cents right now.

Akerson has loads of praise for the nice people who gave him billions of dollars, so he could continue his unsustainable business model. He told the Detroit News “I have nothing but good things to say about them.” He’s not talking about you, silly. Your free choices are what brought GM’s unsustainable business model to the edge of bankruptcy. He’s talking about the nice government people who took those billions away from you by force, and used them to override the judgment of the market.

Now your judgment in car purchase must be over-ridden once again, and massive new taxes are ideal tool for getting the job done. The Detroit News tells us Akerson believes “a government-imposed tax hike will prompt more people to buy small cars and do more good for the environment than forcing automakers to comply with higher gas-mileage standards.”

Milage tax floated again by Obama Administration

Even though gas prices have been creeping upward as of late, though they are expected to decline by June, President Barack Obama is again floating an idea to impose a new tax on drivers for the number of miles they drive:

The Obama administration has floated a transportation authorization bill that would require the study and implementation of a plan to tax automobile drivers based on how many miles they drive.

The plan is a part of the administration’s Transportation Opportunities Act, an undated draft of which was obtained this week by Transportation Weekly.

The White House, however, said the bill is only an early draft that was not formally circulated within the administration.

“This is not an administration proposal,” White House spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said. “This is not a bill supported by the administration. This was an early working draft proposal that was never formally circulated within the administration, does not taken into account the advice of the president’s senior advisers, economic team or Cabinet officials, and does not represent the views of the president.”

Two Senators push for gas tax hike

Two members of the Senate are hoping to pass a gas tax increase as part of a spending and tax reform proposal to pay for more transportation boondoggles, such as high-speed rail, and deficit reduction; God forbid they just cut spending:

Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio) have written to the chairmen of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform advocating for a 25-cent per gallon tax increase.

“We suggest that the commission include an increase in the federal tax on gasoline and diesel as part of your report to the president,” they wrote. “We suggest that the taxes be increased by one cent per month for 25 months — a total of 25 cents over a three-year period.”

The lawmakers suggest that 10 cents of the tax increase should go to deficit reduction and 15 cents should go to funding transportation infrastructure improvements.

It is one of many tax increases Congress is likely to consider in the months ahead as it wrestles with finding ways to reduce the nation’s $1.5 trillion budget deficit.

Passage of this is unlikely, at least in the immediate future. And thankfully, Voinovich is will be out of the Senate soon (he did not run for re-election). While Republicans made significant gains last week, don’t expect a push for this to go away. This tax reform commission is going to be bad news.

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