I Debate an Increase in the Federal Gasoline Tax On the Air

By Brendan Moore

It probably seems unusual and frankly, perhaps even bizarre to some people, considering what I do here AND the current political climate, but I am an advocate of higher gasoline taxes. I’ve been pushing for an increase in the federal gas tax for decades, actually, and I occasionally reference this in the articles I’ve written for Autosavant, and sometimes, I write a piece about that subject specifically, like this one I wrote in 2006.

Anyway, other people have noticed my quixotic efforts, and last week, I was invited to defend my point of view on today’s The Joy Cardin Show on Wisconsin Public Radio, which was broadcast live this morning at 7 AM Central Time (much too early in the day for anything, in my opinion, but what do I know). The opposing point of view, that is, the notion that the federal gas tax should not be raised, was offered by Robert Murphy, economist for the Institute for Energy Research. It already sounds like quite a mismatch, doesn’t it?

The reason that this subject became relevant lately is that the president’s deficit commission recently called for a 15-cent increase in the federal gas tax in order to help close the deficit. So, now the subject is newsworthy.

The show is an hour long, with opening remarks by me and Mr. Murphy, some questions from Ms. Cardin, and then some call-in questions from listeners.

If you would like to listen to the show, you can download the MP3 file of the program HERE, and then play it back at your leisure. It is almost an hour long, as I mentioned, so put some time aside if you want to hear the whole segment.

I hope you find it interesting.

Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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8 Comments

  1. I downloaded it and listened to it while I was making deliveries today, and I thought you definitely made better points than the economist, but the, I’m in agreemenet with the idea, so I’m probably biased to begin with. I don’t think I could be convinced otherwise at this point.

  2. As long as the money from the tax goes for roads. In Quebec we got one of the high gas taxes and seeing the shapes of the roads here, I guess it was “lost in space” err I mean in bureaucracy. And the city of Montreal wanted more gas taxes to subsidy public transit. http://montreal.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20101203/mtl_postscript_101203/20101203/?hub=MontrealHome
    http://www.montrealgazette.com/Motorists+more/3886052/story.html

    On a off-topic note, I spotted this video from ReasonTV about private roads.
    http://reason.tv/video/show/bruce-benson-private-roads-int

  3. Yes, finally someone that is making sense! I love to drive fast too, but gas should cost more, it really should. I vote the money goes to highway improvements and mass transit.

  4. I have yet to listen to the program, but I am fully in favor of increasing the gas tax. The government has stated many times that we need to reduce our usage of oil. Best way to reduce quantity demanded of something is to raise the price. But instead of addressing the “illness,” they go after symptoms with silly MPG requirements. Increase fuel prices would lead to market-driven demand for more fuel efficient vehicles, not policy-driven supply of fuel efficient vehicles. Mandating the types of vehiles automakers can produce through fleet averages runs the risk of reducing the variety of vehicles offered. For example, gas costs about $8 per gallon in London, but you can still buy a Ferrari that gets 15 MPG if you so desire. Here, automakers will be forced to eliminate products in an effort to raise the fleet average. Instead of the consumers deciding which vehicles should be produced, mandates dictate to automakers what vehicles should be produced. Raising gas taxes is just so much more efficient, not to mention the added benefit of increasing funds for road construction. Sorry if any or all of this was addressed in the program, but I get pretty worked up about this issue.

  5. I think you guys must have lost your marbles. Not only should there be no increase in the gas tax, there should be a DECREASE in the gas tax in order to help the economy. Longer term, there will be planty of oil for gas production if we just open up all of our sources of domestic oil in the U.S. There is no oil shortage, it is just a manufactured crisis fabricated in order to advance the eco-nut agenda.

    In terms of revenues we need, we only need revenues because the bloated federal government spends so much. We are already being taxed to death, so how about we change things up and just clamp down on spending?

    How’s that for a new idea? Less taxes and less spending.

  6. I have an SUV because I have three boys that play ice hockey and I need a lot of space for their gear and that thing sucks gas, so I’m not in favor of anything that costs me more money. My family”s barely making it as it as, and I can’t increase my commuting cost because my job doesn’t pay that much. No, I am definitely not in favor of gasoline costing more, I’d like to see it around $2.00 a gallon again.

  7. Laurie and “Real Talk” have some interesting points. Maybe we might have to find other ways of financing like tolls for example HOT (High-occupency tolls) lanes or ETL (Express toll lanes) but not all “roadgeeks” (fans of highways) will like that idea. We could discuss it more about it on the AAroads forum http://www.aaroads.com/forum/

    Or maybe we should go a step further to find other ways like ads or sponsorship deal like the city of Louisville did with KFC to fix the potholes http://www.yumsugar.com/KFC-Patches-Up-Potholes-New-Fresh-Tastes-Best-Campaign-2984223
    Or even having ads on DOT fleet vehicules like the school bus
    http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory?id=10145057
    http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/local/mesa/article_3b344f2a-a65d-11df-b7a9-001cc4c03286.html to get additionnal funding.

  8. Look I have not read you comments to wanting a increase in Gas Taxes!

    But I dont see no way shape or form that it will be good!

    Most of the time the money used for Gas Taxes is intecepted and goes to other projects than its intended use!That the way Goverment operates! That needs to be stopped!

    Thats why the roads are in such bad shape now!

    Some have the logic that its better to have higher gas taxes inorder to have a more uniform gas price at the pump and make it easier for Auto Manufacters to predict the market!

    But lets say you put a $1.00 agallon extra tax on it, then still the oil companies could go up double on the price of fuel again!

    Another example taxes on Cigarettes and Liquior have helped slow the use of these products?

    As far as the Gas Tax goes, the government needs to stop the Electonic Spectators on the Gas Futures Market, right now is a perfect exaample of what I am talking about!

    This summer we went through Memorial Day and July 4th holidays with decease in gaoline price with a ‘oil spill in the Gulf!
    Now in winter season less driving the oil spill is fixed and prices are nearing $3.00 agallon again! China didnt start using that musch more fuel in 5 mouth time!!!!!

    One other thing its not like the seventies again, we have a adbundant ‘Small Cars” to pick from, not just gas guzzlers!

    The ones to be hurt will be food prices and other durable goods that are trucked in by a Class 8 truck that gets 6 mile per gallon paying a higher gas tax, not to mention the pass on cost of services sector, Hvac, Plumbing Etc!
    Do you think paying higher taxes for Food is a good idea? its not working for Cigarettes and Liquior, the same logic applies!

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