Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Time for a gas tax increase?

In a recent editorial, Start Making Sense: America must end its denial about gas taxes, Washington Post editors make the case for increasing the gas tax. Higher gas taxes "would stimulate the market for new fuel-efficient cars; defund mischief-making petro-states; and cut carbon emissions. Not only that, it would reduce traffic, curb urban sprawl and, by giving drivers an incentive to drive more slowly, improve highway safety."

When the price of gas was $4 a gallon, we drove less and used other forms of transportation like bikes and transit. Now that the price is well below $2, this trend will likely be reversed. With the price of gas fluctuating greatly, gradually adding small tax increments would likely have little effect on most of us, especially considering that the Federal tax on gas "has held steady at 18.4 cents since 1993", and the current price of gas is equivalent to 1980 prices.

"Congress should enact a steep, inflation-indexed hike in gas taxes, one big enough to alter consumer incentives and habits permanently...even if Congress were to triple the tax to 55.2 cents, gas would still be cheaper, in real terms, than it was in 2005." Several Post readers agree.


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