The Tax Man Cometh: Bipartisan Senate Plan Would Raise Federal Gas Tax by 12 Cents
Americans may soon look back at $4-a-gallon gas as “the good old days.”
U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D – Conn.) and Bob Corker (R – Tenn.) are pushing a plan to increase the federal gas tax by 12 cents over two years. The senators’ plan would also “index” the hike to inflation, essentially making their plan a perpetual tax increase.
If enacted, the senators’ plan would raise the federal gas tax from 18.4 cents to 30.4 cents per gallon, the Associated Press reports. The fed’s per-gallon diesel tax would jump from 24.4 cents to 36.4 cents.
Critics say the plan would increase taxes by $164 billion and stunt economic growth.
The last time Congress raised the gas tax was in 1993, and the decision is said to be one of the factors that led to the “Republican Revolution” of 1994. Our brave D.C. leaders understand that raising the gas tax could once again prove highly unpopular with voters, which is why they may wait until after the midterm elections in November to debate the gas tax hike, the AP notes.
Labor unions and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce support the tax hike plan and say it’s a necessary “investment” in U.S. infrastructure. Supporters also note that current gas tax revenue has flat-lined in recent years because people are driving less – perhaps due to the high jobless rate – and buying more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Corker, who critics say is a “Republican in name only,” says the gas tax hike plan wouldn’t violate his earlier pledge not to raise taxes because it would be offset by extending federal tax cuts in others areas, such as allowing federal taxpayers to deduct their state and local taxes.
It’s doubtful such offsets would be appreciated by residents in the handful of states – Pennsylvania, Maryland, Michigan, Vermont, New Hampshire and Wyoming – that have either recently raised the state gas tax or are considering doing so.
Some opponents of the federal gas tax plan point to the states’ action as the proper way to improve America’s roads. They say it’s each state’s duty to fix their own roads and bridges.
“Instead of standing up to the special interests who feast on the (federal government’s) chronically bankrupt Highway Trust Fund year after year, Senator Corker and Senator Murphy have essentially decided that throwing more money into a black hole is a good path forward. It’s not,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola in a press release. “Rather than perpetuate this failed system, Congress should devolve highway funding to the states and let them fund their own infrastructure needs.”