Washington wants more taxes on gas in response to price drops
by Sam Rolley
Falling oil prices in recent months have provided a little paycheck padding for Americans. But as average folks celebrate less pain at the pump, some policymakers are preparing to jump at the chance to offset the savings with fuel tax hikes.
Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe (Okla.), who is entering his second term running the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, recently said that the recent price drops give lawmakers looking for new infrastructure funding new options for increasing revenue. According to the lawmaker, no option should be left off the table, including raising the gas tax above 18.4 cents per gallon, where it has been since 1993.
“John Thune made the statement that ‘nothing is off the table,’ and I agree with his statement,” Inhofe told reporters Wednesday.
Thune, a South Dakota Republican Senator, made the comment over the weekend, joining GOP colleague Sen. Bob Corker in calls for raising the tax by as much as 12 cents.
Inhofe also argued that the gas tax should be considered a “user fee” because it is paid only by people who use U.S. infrastructure.
Meanwhile, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers also called for increased fuel taxes and other possible carbon taxes this week in a column for The Washington Post.
“The case for carbon taxes has long been compelling,” Summers wrote. “With the recent steep fall in oil prices and associated declines in other energy prices, it has become overwhelming. There is room for debate about the size of the tax and about how the proceeds should be deployed. But there should be no doubt that, given the current zero tax rate on carbon, increased taxation would be desirable.”