The NYT chimes in: time for a gas tax – HOT

Can you hear that? Those are the war drums, and more and more of them are beating the same tune: bring on the gas tax. An editorial in The Gray Lady is the latest and arguably the weightiest to join the shock troops advocating for higher gas prices. The writer proposes a fluctuating consumption tax that would keep gas at least $4 per gallon in 2008 dollars, while an economist suggests a sliding tax on the price of a barrel of oil to achieve the same effect.

The NYT admits “a bitter recession is not the most opportune time to ratchet up the price of energy.” But it balances that against the coming Obama administration’s aims, the government’s enviro-friendly suggestions to the U.S. auto industry, and Americans’ claims to want to get off of foreign oil.

Although not mentioned specifically in the Times piece, some recommend a gas tax for a reason that has nothing to do with environmental stewardship: state governments need money. States are making enormous budget cuts, trying to sell and lease their lotteries, state parks, roads, bridges, and even their airports, and lining up for federal aid totaling hundreds of billions of dollars, and still saying they won’t have enough money. The answer to “Will there be a gas tax?” could be, as Jesse Jackson once said, “The question is moot!” The question is not whether there will be a gas tax, but whether you will pay your additional taxes at the pump, at the toll booth, in your paycheck, etc…

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