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Higher Federal gasoline tax, yes or no?(33 posts)

Higher Federal gasoline tax, yes or no?Continental
Apr 18, 2003 7:21 AM
House Transportation Chairman Don Young of Alaska is considering almost doubling the federal gasoline tax, raising it from 18.4 cents per gallon to more than 33 cents by 2009. He says it has not been raised since 1993 and is needed to pay for highways and mass transportation.

I'm for it. I'm a deficit hawk. I think consumption taxes provide a stable basis for government revenue. And our profligate consumption of gasoline is more than irresponsible, it's almost criminal.
About 4 bucks a gallon sounds right to meretro
Apr 18, 2003 7:47 AM
Haven't checked in awhile, but last time I looked, U.S. gas prices were like the third or fourth lowest in the world, behind only Venuzuela and one or two countries in the Middle East. I'd support raising taxes to bring the cost to something close to the world average, both to discourage consumption and raise money. Obviously some money would have to go to mass transit and to help people who genuinely can't afford the price increase, but for most of us, it's just about what we should be paying for the convenience and mobilty we take for granted now.
The country would be in insurrectionOldEdScott
Apr 18, 2003 7:53 AM
if gas hit $4 a gallon! NOTHING would piss off the average citizen more. You could raise income taxes 50 percent and see less fury.

That having been said, it's a basically good idea. Never happen, though.
yup; cheap gas is as American as voting nmDougSloan
Apr 18, 2003 8:05 AM
cheap gas is more American than voting ...PdxMark
Apr 18, 2003 8:12 AM
if participation and the expectation of entitlement are any measure...
About 4 bucks a gallon sounds right to mePdxMark
Apr 18, 2003 7:59 AM
Drivers have great pride in the belief that their gas taxes pay for roads. They are sadly mistaken. These numbers are approximate, but Oregon has a 27 cent/gallon tax, and it covers about 1/3-1/2 the cost of basic road maintenance, and almost none of the cost of improvements, new roads, etc. With the deferred road/bridge maintenance here, and I'm sure the rest of the country, a tax of $1-$2/gallon would be needed to cover the actual costs of building and maintaining roads. But, hidden subsidies are the best, and when matched with mythic self-funding, are impossible to address.
re: Higher Federal gasoline tax, yes or no?No_sprint
Apr 18, 2003 8:24 AM
If I weren't such a skeptic about government's use of tax revenue, I'd say ok. In my opinion government is the most inefficient user of $$. I think they already have more than enough to do what they were charged with many years ago. I don't believe taxes should be levied to *discourage* anything. States take huge tax dollars and billion dollar settlements as windfalls for junk spending. I'm always reminded of what the luxury tax did to the shipping industry in New England and what California has done with the huge cigarette tax and the massive cigarette industry lawsuit settlement. Nothing.

Around here, the roads that need fixing are city streets, not highways.

I don't look at taxation as the answer to anything.
cars too big, roads a mess and too much traffic, so yes nmgtx
Apr 18, 2003 8:32 AM
re-thinking it, maybe if other taxes are reduced as muchDougSloan
Apr 18, 2003 9:23 AM
Reduce the income tax as much as you raise the gas tax and I might support it. Becomes more of a "user fee," then.

If a gas tax discourages using gasoline, what does an income tax discourage?

Doug
That's how he's selling it: a "user fee"js5280
Apr 18, 2003 10:33 AM
http://www.ktuu.com/features/washingtonreport/011403.asp

Also, since most products are shipped by truck, you can be sure prices for goods will go up across the board.

As much as I hate to see people in grotesque gas-guzzling automobiles and the terrible traffic, a raise of that magnitude seems out of line. Especially in this economy. Still, the federal government does have constitutional authority for maintaining interstate highways and has to raise funds somehow. Better a "user based tax" than an income tax. I like your "What does income tax discourage" quib :-) I'd be up for allowing across-the- board (i.e. all taxpayers, including standard deduction people) income tax deductions on state and federal gas taxes though as you suggested Doug. It's been proposed before too.
would need a tax credit, not deduction nmDougSloan
Apr 18, 2003 5:11 PM
what sucks about these proposals isDougSloan
Apr 18, 2003 5:19 PM
They never use the money for what they say they will. It all goes into the big pork pot, and becomes merely another excuse to up taxes and spend more. Lotteries, tobacco tax, tobacco settlement, every one.

Doug
Prediction: Don Young (AK-R) loses next election. . .js5280
Apr 18, 2003 10:16 AM
A Republican, from Alaska of all places, wants to raise the gas tax almost two-fold?!?!! Can you say political suicide? Oil is Alaska largest revenue souce! There's got to be something else going on here, like Alaska oil would be exempt. Perhaps he's just inhaled to many fumes sitting behind a Winnebago doing 23mph on the Alaskan Highway. . .
ShrewdSteve98501
Apr 18, 2003 11:11 AM
I read that Alaska oil is sold to Japanese buyers. It nevers becomes gasoline that is sold in the U.S. Therefore, there would be no effect on Alaska oil revenue.
Oil is oilTJeanloz
Apr 18, 2003 11:14 AM
There's nothing special about oil. If you reduce worldwide demand, you reduce worldwide prices, whether they're buying it in Tokyo or Dallas.
yup, it's called "fungible"DougSloan
Apr 18, 2003 5:21 PM
It's pretty much the same. Makes more sense to transport it less. Sell Alaskan to Japan, and it's like the U.S. gets more "oil credits" on the world market, to buy more somewhere else.

Doug
Why do some people of this generation...PdxMark
Apr 18, 2003 10:33 AM
think that they don't need to maintain the infrastructure that was built by prior generations? Roads are one example, and we can stick with that...

This generation seems to be the quintessential Me-generation. Don't take "my money" to maintain or support roads... Commonly, this comes from people who profess a strong sense of personal responsibility, while they blithely allow basic infrastructure to crumble under the wheels of their vehicles - squandering the societal contributions of generations before them. This also seems to show an apparent lack of appreciation that our infrastructure is what supports our economy.

Taxes should be high enough to maintain what we have. All of it. Those who argue otherwise are simply leeching off of past and future generations. We should be paying for what we use.
At the rate we're goingSpoke Wrench
Apr 18, 2003 10:46 AM
at some point, all of those 4 wheel drive SUVs that never go off road are going to start to make sense.
"We should pay for what we use"TJeanloz
Apr 18, 2003 10:57 AM
Interestingly enough, this statement is a good reason to support NOT increasing the federal gas tax. I agree, we should pay for what we use. The likelyhood of me ever driving on a highway in North Dakota is slim to none, so why should I pay for it via the Federal Government? I should pay for what I use, but why should I pay for what I will never use? For what its worth, the Interstate system is maintained far better than most other roads (granted, in Massachusetts, all state roads have a "big dig" hangover). I would really dispute anybody's claim that we are allowing basic infrastructure to crumble. All I see are roads being rebuilt, repaved, and upgraded. I can't think of a highway that's in bad shape.

Someday the technology will be available to assess people for the use of the roadways as a user fee, and I'm all for it.
Hey Beantown Boy -- Get offa' ma' road!Dale Brigham
Apr 18, 2003 12:24 PM
This statement is, of course, absurd. Public facilities (which include roads, streets, and highways) are, by definition, open to lawful use by the the public, regardless of state or nation of citizenship, locale of taxing entity, and (lawful) mode of use. The roads of North Dakota are open to you, as are the roads of Mass open to North Dakotans.

The hypothetical North Dakotan and little ol' me (in MO), both paid for The Big Dig (albeit, less than you), and whether we ever drive on it or not (and from what I have heard about driving in Boston, I think I'd rather not!) it benefits us and the nation. In turn, you get to share some of the costs of highways in MO and ND. That's why we are called the UNITED States of America. We's all in this together!

By the way, if you ever come down here to vist us Hill-Dwelling Americans in Big MO, I'd be happy to show you some great bike rides on the paved secondary roads here. Just be ready to be bounced around in you car on the way over here once you cross into the Show-Me State. Those geniuses collectively known as the MO voters recently rejected an increase in the state gasoline tax, and the Interstates (the Feds only pay some of the upkeep), state and federal highways, and local roads here continue to deteriorate as a result of having one of the lowest per mile maintenance expenditures in the U.S.

Happy Driving!

Dale
The roads of Canada are also open to me,TJeanloz
Apr 18, 2003 12:42 PM
I never go there either. As for the Big Dig benefiting anybody except commuters on Boston's North and South Shores, I don't see it. Ideally, a tarrif structure would be in place to charge people who use the roads on a scheme that balances it all out. The argument that the roads are key to the economy is still served -- truckers would have to pay the tarrif, and the cost would be [eventually] passed on to the end user of the product on the truck.
If you don't see how local transportation infrastructure...Dale Brigham
Apr 18, 2003 1:23 PM
...benefits citizens nationwide, there is certainly nothing I can say that will sway you.

Dale
If you don't see how local transportation infrastructure...TJeanloz
Apr 18, 2003 1:32 PM
There are obviously some benefits nationwide to local transportation infrastructure. I defy you to say that the Big Dig was a positive Cost/benefit project for the country. You're never going to get that ~14.5 billion back.

This isn't to say that via a complex tax scheme, money for roads couldn't be better allocated.
Pay for what we use - as individuals or society?PdxMark
Apr 18, 2003 2:22 PM
If it were entirely based on individual use, then there should be a toll for every mile driven to cover every cost to maintain every stretch of road. Of course, rural areas that did not have significant trucking traffic could not remotely afford to pay what it costs to keep their roads open and maintained. What do we do then? Let them wither? That doesn't seem right to me...

It seems that we share the burden across society - such as in a gas tax. But actually cover ALL the maintenance costs. Bridges up to standard, highways safe and well-maintained. Maybe some states have maintained all the bridges, highways, and local surface streets to a reasonable degree, but I doubt it.

Also, what gas tax covers all road building and maintenance costs? If not the gas tax, why use other taxes? Roads are subsidized by general tax revenues. I'm just saying that the gas tax should cover all costs of building and maintain roads.
That's a funny argument from a cyclist...TJeanloz
Apr 21, 2003 6:16 AM
So a gas tax should pay for the roads, because only cars and truck use roads? Think about that next time you're out for a ride. Personally, I'd love to see a GPS technology that charged people for every inch of road they used, and even better, scale the charge based on gross vehicle weight.
We're trying to save for that large Boomer Social Security billjs5280
Apr 18, 2003 11:02 AM
just down the road. In defense of the Me-generation, we carry a larger tax burden (see chart below) than past generations. If you compare the Highest taxed countries vs. the lowest taxed, where do you see the majority of the economically successful countries?

I agree that we need to maintain and develop interstate infrastructure, and this is a legimate federal concern. Doubling the gas tax though stings more a big money grab by the Feds.
fine, but too much wasteDougSloan
Apr 18, 2003 5:26 PM
I doubt anyone minds paying for necessary infrastructure, like highways. What I do mind it the vast amount of waste in government. The only way to get government to be more efficient is to give it less money. Imagine that? Sad thing is, the first thing they do is cut highly visable, necessary public services, then parade some victim of the cuts on tv, and blame the cuts for someone going hungry, instead of firing the hundreds of middle management "let's have a meeting" do-nothings that having nothing to do but think of creative ways to maintain their own job security and spend all their budget so they get at least the same amount next year. Has nothing to do with "me." Has everything to do with ridiculous waste. I know, I've been there.

Doug
Back in my previous lifepurplepaul
Apr 18, 2003 12:15 PM
as a knee jerk liberal I would of course favored a higher gas tax. When I see one person in a massive SUV on a clogged NY highway I like to imagine $10/gal. gas.

But, why pick on gas? There are all sorts of subsidized industries. Red meat. Subsidized. Why should I, a vegetarian, pay so someone can consume something I feel is wrong to kill and eat? And why should a rancher take my money for it too? The answer, of course, is that this is not a land made up of 300 million independent countries. We've banded together as one country, disparate though we may be, for the overall good. That's why it makes sense for a New Yorker to help pay for a road in Nebraska. Plus, we all benefit from the interstate commerce.

But government really has shown that it will spend a dollar to get a dime. Furthermore, although it's counter-intuitive, raising taxes does not always yield higher revenue. It's a paradox that few economists can solve, but I believe there is a balancing point where raising and lowering taxes lowers revenue. That's where we should be. To the extent that taxes are holding back progress and revenue, they should be lowered. Where they are being wasted, they should be eliminated. And where they are too low, they should be increased. I believe the net result would be overall lower taxes with better services. But nobody seems to require fiscal responsibility from their elected respresentatives.
re: Higher Federal gasoline tax, yes or no?4bykn
Apr 18, 2003 1:30 PM
Am I missing something here? Tax on gasoline could go up by 15 cents? Big deal, it(pump price) went up 20 cents yesterday here in my town.
Here's the dealmohair_chair
Apr 21, 2003 7:03 AM
If the taxes will go towards building a usable mass transportation infrastructure like the rail system in Europe (including high speed intercity rail), and towards building subway/light rail systems in all major cities within a reasonable amount of time (i.e., 5-10 years), I'm all for it. I will gladly make that investment in the future.

Unfortunately, it won't. Politicians like to talk mass transportation and it turns out to be buses. Buses suck. They are stinky and filthy, they pollute, and they go up to ten times slower than driving the same route in my car. Buses are not the answer--right of way systems are. I do not want to pay for any more buses.

Another thing--any subway/light rail system that doesn't go from downtown to inside the airport terminal is a huge waste of money. In countless European cities that I've traveled to, I can get off a plane, get on the metro, and be downtown in minutes. Why is this such a difficult concept in the USA?
I agreeDougSloan
Apr 21, 2003 7:11 AM
I'd love to see more light rail and high speed rail. California really needs a high speed rail system running from San Diego, LA, up the Central Valley, then to the Bay Area and Sacramento. The cost would be astronomical, though.

I like the subway/L from Chicago Ohare to downtown. Took that on several visits, and was pleased to pass all the cars on the freeway along the way.

Doug
This is a federal tax though. . .js5280
Apr 21, 2003 2:22 PM
So intrastate stuff probably wouldn't apply. In additional the Feds already have Amtrak and the can't seem to get it to run at profit which is no surprise. Also there is no constitutional authority I know of for the Feds to be in the railroad business. Never heard the history how the tie was established.
so we'll go to Las Vegas, tooDougSloan
Apr 21, 2003 3:17 PM
The feds do all sorts of things intrastate; they simply fund the state project. Depsite the 10th Amendment, the feds pretty much can do anything not specifically denied them.

Doug