The first via The Federalist:
You can understand it only if you understand that in some minds there is a constant imperative for the expansion of government. The only question they ask is whether they can get away with it. When gas prices are low, they think they can, so that is what they advocate.
That summarizes the whole argument for.
The second is Charles Krauthammer’s opinion piece advocating a gas tax, titled “Raise the Gas Tax. A Lot.”
For 32 years I’ve been advocating a major tax on petroleum. I’ve got as much chance this time around as did Don Quixote with windmills. But I shall tilt my lance once more.
The only time you can even think of proposing a gas tax increase is when oil prices are at rock bottom.
32 years of advocating for a tax that no driver wants. He’s got a much better chance that Don Quixote, because things like the gas tax end up with “bipartisan support” of big government activists on both the left and the right.
The hike should not be 10 cents but $1. And the proceeds should not be spent by, or even entrusted to, the government. They should be immediately and entirely returned to the consumer by means of a cut in the Social Security tax.
And that’s where Krauthammer’s entire idea fails. “We’ll raise one tax so we can drop another” will never, ever, ever happen. The first tax will be raised, the second will never go away.
The rest of his math is based on “savings” to an “average driver” that probably makes sense to someone from the east coast or DC who only has to drive a few minutes to work if at all (in Krauthammer’s particular case, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t drive anymore at all). It’s a massive burden on people who live in geographically larger states.
It’s win-win. Employment taxes are a drag on job creation. Reducing them not only promotes growth but advances fairness, FICA being a regressive tax that hits the middle and working classes far more than the rich.
So “fairness” is to tax the provinces while the capital feasts? Also, when has the tax system ever been about “fairness”? If that were the case, we should get rid of all “sin” excise taxes right now, because those are made to modify behavior based on government using force to manipulate the economy.
A $1 gas tax increase would constrain oil consumption in two ways. In the short run, by curbing driving. In the long run, by altering car-buying habits. A return to gas-guzzling land yachts occurs every time gasoline prices plunge. A high gas tax encourages demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles. Constrained U.S. consumption — combined with already huge increases in U.S. production — would continue to apply enormous downward pressure on oil prices.
A tax is the best way to improve fuel efficiency. Today we do it through rigid regulations, the so-called CAFE standards imposed on carmakers. They are forced to manufacture acres of unsellable cars in order to meet an arbitrary, bureaucratic “fleet” gas-consumption average.
This is nuts. If you simply set a higher price point for gasoline, buyers will do the sorting on their own, choosing fuel efficiency just as they do when the world price is high. The beauty of the tax — as a substitute for a high world price — is that the incentive for fuel efficiency remains…
His FICA argument is nonsense because no tax cut will be passed.
His “altering car-buying habits” argument only works if you accept the basic premise – that people need to be forced to not buy “gas-guzzling land yachts”.
Also, there’s already a tax on buying anything that doesn’t meet an arbitrary, bureaucratic “gas guzzler” gas consumption decision:
Krauthammer’s argument is that we need to raise taxes to punish the consumer even more for personal decisions that Krauthammer’s decided are bad decisions. Yay big government.
And finally, lower consumption reduces pollution and greenhouse gases. The reduction of traditional pollutants, though relatively minor, is an undeniable gain. And even for global warming skeptics, there’s no reason not to welcome a benign measure that induces prudential reductions in CO2 emissions.
Except it’s not a benign measure. The power to tax is the power to destroy. This is a tool to force people into what DC wants you to drive, not what you want to drive. Their reasons hinge on the idea that you need to be coerced into their worldview.
If given the choice between a work truck that gets 12 mpg and one that gets 30 mpg, where all other features are the same, a business or an individual will take the one that gets higher mpg because it already benefits them. Doesn’t matter if it’s $4/gallon or $2/gallon. If given the choice between a performace car that gets 15 mpg and one that gets 35 mpg, other factors being the same, they’ll take the one that gets 35. It still benefits them.
Some DC thug hitting them with yet another tax to tell them what to buy is only a good idea if you’re in favor of the DC thug hitting them with another tax.
Sorry, Chuck, the reason why people oppose it is because they understand it.