Raising Federal Gas Taxes Raised to… Stop Terrorism?


By: Warner Todd Huston

The Washington Post is directing a December 8 plea to the incoming Obama administration. The Post wants to raise the federal gas tax so high that it will stop people from driving. The Post thinks this will serve our national security purposes and add more money to rebuild our nation’s roads. Apparently, the Washington Post has the foolishly mistaken notion that federal gas tax receipts actually go where our Congress initially claimed it was going to go; our nation’s roads. In fact, nearly half of the federal gas tax receipts go to pork instead of roads and infrastructure.

But, despite the waste by government, here is the Washington Post trying to soak America’s drivers even more by suggesting Congress raise the federal gas tax by 46 cents a gallon. The Post thinks that recently falling gas prices offers a “golden opportunity” for the government to emulate Europe and pile taxes high on each gallon purchased. The Post is obviously unaware that the US did not become the greatest nation on earth by emulating Europe!

So, what does the Post think will be accomplished by raising the gas tax? They think we will suddenly be safer, as if paying confiscatory taxes like Europe will suddenly make terrorism go away. Not only that, but high taxes will, in the Post’s opinion, “improve highway safety,” too.

This step 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.

All dubious claims, for certain.

Sadly, the Post seems willfully ignorant of what federal gas taxes actually end up paying for. The Post seems to imagine that Congress can be trusted to take this windfall gas tax and actually spend it on our nation’s roads and bridges. The Post is completely innocent of any thought that this money will just fuel more profligate Congressional spending instead of fueling a positive change in our infrastructure and driving habits.

It’s hard to believe that a national newspaper of the prominence of the Washington Post could be so filled with naiveté. The entirety of federal gas tax does not go to the upkeep and building of the nation’s highways. In fact, it goes to things that have nothing at all to do with the safety and repair of our highways. Often times as much as 42% of these taxes end up going to pork barrel spending and earmarks. In 2005, for instance, well over one million dollars of gas taxes went to several museums around the country to pay for building projects. And that is just some of the $12 billion in pork and wasteful projects funded by federal transportation spending during that year… not to mention every year before and after.

Then the Washington Post makes the most idiotic suggestion I’ve yet seen. The Post thinks we should soak the driver with a gas tax all year, yet then turn around and rebate it with income tax refunds on April 15th.

But surely voters can understand that, 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. The increase could be rebated through the income tax system.

So, what exactly would be the purpose of soaking every driver in America every day, to steal his money, but then turn around and give the taxes back at the end of the tax season? How does that even make any logical sense? Would the money spent on infrastructure magically reappear in time to refund it to the tax payer? How does spent money just magically reappear?

The Post sums up their little fantasy world with an awful lot of bald faced assumptions without any real proof to back them up.

Whenever anyone mentions the gas tax, politicians are quick to warn their constituents about the costs; rarely do they mention the benefits. A higher gas tax would buy valuable public goods: national security; a cleaner environment; and safer, less congested streets. No matter what, Americans will have to pay for all of that. Why not do it the simple, straightforward way?

Sorry, Washington Post. But all a higher federal gas tax will do is give the piggies at the trough in Washington D.C. more money than ever to waste on pet projects and pork barrel spending. Sure higher taxes will stop people from driving. It will also raise the costs of transportation, food, entertainment and everything else that is connected with the trucking and shipping industry — which is just about everything. Higher taxes will not build roads, make highways safer, or eliminate the threat of terrorism from petro-dollar infused outlaw Muslim states.

The problem with Congress isn’t that they don’t get enough taxes. It’s that they waste most of what they already get. But you go on with your little fantasy world, there, Washington Post. Forget about the reality that stares us all right in then face.

The belief in big government is pathological with these people.

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