NY Times, Washington Post Are Thrilled That Trump Mentioned Raising Gas Tax

NY Times, Washington Post Are Thrilled That Trump Mentioned Raising Gas Tax

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Polls on raising the gas tax are particularly negative, even among Democrats, but, when asked, Trump said “It’s something that I would certainly consider”. It didn’t mean he was serious: he and people in his administration typically say that or something similar when they are not prepared to really answer a question. But, this has made both the NY Times and Washington Post editorial boards giddy

Donald Trump’s Very Good Idea: Raise the Gas Tax

Every once in a while, President Trump says something that really makes sense, as when he suggested on Monday raising the federal gasoline tax to help pay for his infrastructure plan. Hold on to that thought, Mr. President. It’s a great idea.

The federal fuel tax — 18.4 cents per gallon for gasoline and 24.4 cents for diesel – was supposed to pay to fix and expand the country’s roads and transit systems, but Congress has refused to increase it since 1993. Between inflation and the higher fuel economy of cars, the tax is hardly up to the job. Highway-related tax revenue was only $37.4 billion in the 2015 fiscal year.

Three guesses to determine the main reason why gas tax revenue is down. That’s right, the government, at both the federal and state levels, has been pushing, and even mandating, that vehicles be more efficient. There’s a whole lot less V6 and V8 vehicles on the road, replaced with V4s that get excellent fuel economy and have decent acceleration (unlike a 4 cylinder in 1993, which drove like a turtle on Valium). Plus, the ever increasing number of hybrids and electric vehicles. V6s and V8s usually now have cylinders that shut down at highway speeds to get better fuel economy. And, let’s not forget how hard the previous administration pushed to make this happen, and mandated it happen.

Better fuel economy equals less gas purchased equals lower tax revenue.

Small wonder then that many of the country’s roads and transit systems are somewhere between shoddy and falling apart. The American Society of Civil Engineers recently gave the country’s roads a grade of D and transit systems a D-. It said the poor state of the roads cost the country $160 billion in time and fuel in 2014. And the country’s transit systems have a $90 billion repair backlog, according to a government report published in January.

Perhaps if we weren’t pissing away taxpayer money on overpayments on contracts, projects such as shrimp on treadmills, and ‘climate change’ money to nations which then build airports. Among the many, many ways government wastes money. Waste is estimated anywhere between $125 billion to $1 trillion a year.

A higher gas tax is one way to help pay for Mr. Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan without increasing the federal deficit. It would benefit Americans by shortening their commutes, creating jobs and reducing costs for car repairs. Businesses would be able to ship raw materials and goods faster. All of that would bolster economic growth, which is probably why, in addition to truckers, the United States Chamber of Commerce and AAA support an increase.

In reality, raising the gas tax would hurt the middle and lower classes, raise the cost of goods, and have a negative impact on the economy. Don’t like that link? How about the LA Times saying the same thing? Or liberal leaning Brookings Institute?

Oh, and it’s cute how the NYTEB is suddenly concerned about the deficit. Heck, we could recover $1.3 billion a year to use on transit by refusing to pay employees who are placed on leave for misconduct. $440 million each year wasted on unnecessary printing. Seriously, you can read about all the crazy ways government spends your money at both liberal and conservative sites, money not being used for core services like maintaining transportation.

Trump has a good tax idea. Here’s how to make it work.

HERE IS an upside to President Trump’s un­or­tho­dox style of communication: Sometimes he comes out with a good idea that a less mercurial national figure might avoid out of conventional political caution. So it was with his remark during an interview with Bloomberg News, to the effect that he “would certainly consider” increasing the federal excise tax on motor fuels to help pay for an increase in federal infrastructure spending. (snip)

Of course no one likes to pay more for fuel; policy should be adjusted to help mitigate the impact of this inevitably regressive levy on those who can least afford it. Still, at $ 2.38 per gallon, Tuesday’s nationwide average price of regular gasoline was less than what Americans paid 70 years ago, adjusted for inflation. The tax increase needed to cover currently planned Highway Trust Fund spending would be small — roughly a dime per gallon, according to a 2015 Congressional Budget Office report . Ideally, Congress and the Trump administration could agree to a significantly larger amount, then index it to inflation permanently to assure the trust fund’s long-term stability.

That would be just $1.70 more for a fillup for me. Every 2 weeks or so. But, the trucks which deliver goods would be paying that too. Charging the businesses more to deliver. Then the businesses raise their costs. And it all gets spread around. And we pay more all around.

We have to remember that states themselves have their own gas tax on top of the federal tax. North Carolina’s is one of the nations highest. We have relatively decent roads. Our economy is booming. But, that money is being spent here. Not spread around the country on wasteful projects (see: Obama’s “shovel ready jobs”). Los Federales should, really, lower the federal gas tax, or at least keep it the same, and let the states deal with maintaining their roads and bridges. People closer to the source who know better and can be held more accountable.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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