Time Right For Bush To Push Revenue-Neutral Gas Tax?

A New Yorker columnist compares today's sky-high energy prices with those during the Carter administration, and the scare of the terrorism of September 11 to that of December 7, 1941. She suggests that increasing the gas tax should be considered.

"With only thirteen per cent of the public approving of Bush's handling of gasoline prices, congressional Republicans are having second thoughts about those oil-company tax breaks, while Democrats focus primarily on a feeble but presumably popular measure that would reduce the federal gas tax for sixty days and increase taxes on oil companies.

What no elected official has yet taken a stand on is the fact that there is an obvious way to begin addressing the energy crisis, one that would reduce our need for foreign oil, encourage fuel efficiency, attack global warming, and maybe banish the Hummer forever: a steep tax on gasoline. The general assumption is that this would be political poison -- too many Americans have to drive long distances to work. As a result, the gas tax, which is 18.4 cents a gallon, hasn't been raised since 1993. But if most or all of the proceeds were returned to consumers, in the form of lower payroll taxes, the impact on the economically vulnerable would be minimized.

After September 11th, Bush had an opportunity to propose such a plan, telling Americans that they could join the war on terror by paying more for gasoline and using less of it. Franklin D. Roosevelt proved after Pearl Harbor that fear can be a powerful spur to civic virtue. Bush, in his address to Congress on September 20, 2001, did not invoke anything like the Rooseveltian 'privilege of self-denial.' Instead, he promised to protect us from terrorism, 'eliminate it, and destroy it where it grows.'"

Thanks to Edward A.Mainland via Sierra Club Energy listserv

Full Story: "FUEL DUEL" comment



Good Stuff

I hope more and more journalists keep writing these articles. It really is the most sensible solution.

Michael Lewyn's picture

Good policy, bad politics

Only 28 percent of Americans would support a gas tax increase designed to reduce other taxes.


Build Your Own Paper Block City

Urban Fold is an all-inclusive kit that allows anyone to build the city of their dreams with a few simple folds.
building block set

NEW! Build the world you want to see

Irresistible block set for adults when placed on a coffee table or desk, and great fun for kids.
Planetizen Courses image ad

Planetizen Courses

Advance your career with subscription-based online courses tailored to the urban planning professional.
Starting at $16.95 a month
AICP CTP Storefont Display

The first online AICP* CTP exam prep class

Are you ready to take the AICP* Certified Transportation Planner exam?
Priced at $245 for May exam!