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January 08, 2015

Are You Ready For A Hike In The Gas Tax? Some Leading GOP Senators Are Open To Talking About It.

Wages have been stagnant for years in the US and falling gas prices have put hundreds, in not thousands, of dollars back in people's pockets. Naturally this is unacceptable so the federal government is getting ready to get its piece of your new found windfall by hiking the federal gas tax.

Leading Republicans are actually open to considering the idea.

“Everything is on the table,” [Senator James] Inhofe [R-OK] said in a Wednesday briefing with reporters to preview his committee agenda. He said his top priority is passing a long-term transportation bill, whose spending runs out at the end of May.

With gasoline prices at lows not seen since 2009, some political observers and business executives say now is the ideal time to raise the 18.4 cent-a-gallon tax on gasoline and the 24.4 cent-a-gallon tax on diesel fuel, which haven’t increased since 1993. The taxes are the main source of revenue for the highway trust fund.

Mr. Inhofe didn’t say he supports raising the gas tax, and he refutes referring to it as such. “It’s not a tax,” Mr. Inhofe said. “It’s a user fee.”

He also said this period of cheap gas isn’t really a window of opportunity given it could close sooner than Congress is going to act. “You don’t know what’s going to happen to the price of gas,” Mr. Inhofe said.

Of course, some are arguing that a period of lower gas prices means it might be more palatable to hike the tax. Does that mean if/when prices go back up the tax will come down? No? Oh.

But Inhofe isn't alone. John Thune, the new Republican Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee and Orin hosta, Chairman of the tax writing Senate Finance Committee also have said while they personally oppose hiking the tax, it needs to be on the table to save the federal Highway Trust Fund. Spoiler, when politicians say they personally oppose something but are leaving it "on the table", it's going to happen.

And these three powerful committee chairs aren't alone. At least one GOP Senator Bob Corker (who is chair of the mostly unrelated Foreign Affairs committee) is an outright supporter of the idea.

You want to know what should be done with the federal gas tax? Slash it and let the states control the building of most roads and bridges.

On tax hikes my advice to Republicans is a paraphrase of Winston from Ghostbusters, "When someone ask you if you are in favor of hiking any tax you say NO!"

Any of this mealy mouthed "well, we have to leave things on the table...." is simply an invitation for making mischief. The answer is "no" or better yet "Hell no".

Of course something like this would have a hard time passing the House. It would mean Boehner would have to go to Democrats for votes and there's no way he'd ever do...oh boy.

Naturally the Democrats love hiking the tax because, well, they love hiking taxes. Also, this trust fund pays for public transportation programs. So urban Democratic voters get money from fees paid by people who drive more.

Also supporting a hike in the gas tax? The GOP supporting Chamber of Commerce. Gotta keep that sweet federal money flowing to the donors you know.

Even I have a hard to believing the GOP is this suicidal but the allure of "infrastructure" spending is strong. So would it surprise me if they did it? Of course not.

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posted by DrewM. at 10:32 AM

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