Gas Taxes

Republicans for Raising the Gas Tax?

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Senate.gov

With gas prices around the country at lows not seen for years, America's political class smells an opportunity: It must be time to raise the gas tax.

Even some Republicans seem to be open to the possibility. Over the weekend, Sen. John Thune (R-SD) was asked about the possibility of raising the federal tax on gasoline. In response, he gave one of those classic Washington non-answers. "I don't favor increasing any tax," he said, "but I think we have to look at all the options." This another way of saying, "yes, but I don't want to just say 'yes'."

There are two reasons why this issue is coming up now. The first is that there's a perennial shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund, which funds federal roads projects. The trust is paid for by a fuel tax of 18.4 cents per gallon, which has been level since 1993. Estimates from last summer put the shortfall around $170 billion. It's currently being funded via an $11 billion stopgap measure that expires in May. The politicos who manage the fund are looking for ways to fill that pot.

That's the policy reason. But the policy justification isn't exactly new, and proposals to hikes the gas tax typically haven't gone anywhere.

As much as anything, this is about low gas prices, which, at least in theory, make it easier to raise federal gas taxes. It's a kind of tax hike opportunism: Consumers are saving money at the pump, so some of the savings ought to go to the federal government. Even Republicans, typically the anti-taxers in government, aren't immune from the lure of easy tax hikes.

To be fair, the gas tax proposal put forth by Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) last summer is revenue neutral, at least in theory. It would hike the federal gas tax by 12 cents a gallon over two years, and index it to inflation going forward, erasing the shortfall in the process. The gas tax hike would be offset by adjustment to the tax extenders package.

credit: caseyhelbling / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

It's not the worst idea imaginable, given the offsets (presuming they actually balance out); it's a user fee, basically, that funds highway projects by charging people who drive.

But it would add to the pain at the pump for the entire nation, which, it's worth remembering, already pays about 31 cents per gallon in state fuel taxes and fees, on average, in addition to the federal tax.

A big part of the root problem here is the federalization of highway infrastructure funding. Is Congress really the best organ for making decisions about road projects all around the nation? Some of those decisions, at minimum, are probably better left to the states.

The federalization of highway funding has led to all sorts of problems and perverse incentives, as the Reason Foundation's Bob Poole noted in congressional testimony last year. Federal involvement raises the cost of projects, and encourages new projects rather than maintenance of existing infrastructure. And funding projects with user fees is politically tricky, making shortfalls more likely, even for projects with merit. 

But for some our friends in Congress, it's easier to take advantage of low gas prices by pushing for tax hikes than address these sorts of core problems. 

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  1. Federal highway funds let Congress twist States’ arms to do all kinds of stupid shit – the 55 speed limit and 21 drinking age for instance. It also comes with all kinds of bureaucratic rules on who can do the work and how.

    Just cut the funding and let the states fix roads as they see fit.

    1. I thought the 55 mph limit was only for roads that used federal funds? Which, yes, is probably most roads…

      The 21 year old drinking age is completely ridiculous, though. It’s still shocking to me that extortion wasn’t struck down by the Supremes because they thought it wasn’t extortion-y enough (even though it forced ALL states to change their laws).

      1. The 55 mph limit was for *all* roads in any state that *wanted highway funds* – same as the 21 limit – not just for roads funded by the feds.

        Which is basically all roads since the feds like to say that you can’t separate those dollars.

        1. That was one of the worst Supreme Court decisions ever. The Court said it was okay for the feds to mandate state policies as a condition of getting funds. Doing that allowed the feds to bribe their way into creating national policies that are clearly inconsistent with the Constitution. The feds can’t, at least not now, demand that people waive their Constitutional rights as a condition of getting federal aide. The reason for that is because the feds can’t bride people to get powers it doesn’t have. The same thing is true with regards to the states. But the Supreme Court loves government and loves power and let them do it.

          1. I think it’s more like blackmail than bribery: “we’ll take your citizens money and spend it only in other states unless you do what we say”.

          2. John if you read this, I’m sincerely interested in a more detailed answer as I disagree with this:

            It was one of the worst Supreme Court decisions ever.

            I agree with the rest of your information in that the results of that decision further eroded states’ rights a great deal. Additionally I agree this is a bad thing for freedom, liberty, pursuit, etc.

            However… why can’t the payee demand actions to ensure continued payments?

            Same argument for not allowing welfare money to be spent on cigarettes, candy, and beer.

            I am against this kind of micromanaged oversight (even though my version on good government wouldn’t allow for a lot of the social payments being made today) and therefore nominally against those laws.

            But when the claim is made by other opponents of these laws that they infringe on freedoms, I say tough.

            Because while I think these laws are stupid, I still completely believe they are legally valid.

            If you don’t like the conditions placed on free money, your only option should be not taking it.

            So my question – How does it differ here?

            And if it’s not different, then I think SCOTUS decision was fine; it was state governments who failed in their duty to maintain they freedom by weening themselves off those feral funds and thereby restoring their citizen’s abilities to make those decisions for themselves.

          3. Actually, IIRC, Nevada and Montana were the last to submit. Montana did it by implementing a “fuel wasting charge” ticket (since that’s what the Fed law was supposedly about). They made it a $5 ticket, payable on the spot, no court appearance required, no criminal aspect and no points on the driving record. And people continued to drive 90 mph in Montana Not a lot of the tickets were written because it actually cost a lot more to PROCESS the ticket than the $5 that was collected.

            As for the worst decisions in Supreme Court history – I have to go with Wickard v. Filburn. But there are many to choose from.

      2. even though it forced ALL states to change their laws

        Eventually. Louisiana was the last holdout. They raised it in the late 90s.

  2. Republicans have been complaining about how the tax base is not “broad enough” for years now. Increasing a consumption tax on something everybody needs is a good way to make more people pay more in taxes. Sort of surprised that didn’t come up as a justification; maybe it’s too class warfare-y?

    1. D-

      Raising the gas tax wouldn’t broaden the tax base, it only extracts more wealth from everyone that already uses gasoline.

      But you knew that already, didn’t you?

      1. Yes, I know. It was a poorly worded comment; I haven’t had breakfast, yet.

  3. The republicans should put a surcharge on hybrids that don’t buy enough gas to pay enough road taxes to cover the wear and tear that the hybrids put on the roads. I’m sure that liberals will gladly pay this surcharge.

    1. A heavy-battery surcharge to cover the hazmat suits for accident cleanup too…

      1. I have a coworker whose son works as a paramedic. If they arrive at the seen of an accident with a hybrid and see fluids leaking from the vehicle, they call hazmat and wait for them to come confirm that it is safe enough for the paramedics to come work on anyone hurt in the vehicles.

        1. Hybrids are the most idiotic idea ever brought to automobiles. They don’t improve efficiency to justify the cost of building them and they turn any car wreck into a toxic waste dump.

          If you are worried about your car killing Johnny Polar bear, by a fucking small efficient gas or diesel car and dispense with the batteries.

          1. I read Toyota is moving away from hybrids to hydrogen fuel cells. I don’t know if this is science or marketing.

            1. The problem with that is there is no readily available source of hydrogen. You end up getting your energy by stripping hydrogen from hydrocarbons, instead of just burning the hydrocarbons in the engine for the energy.

              Gasoline is almost a miracle source of energy. A single gallon of gasoline can propel a three thousand pound car down the road at sixty miles an hour for thirty or more miles. That is amazing when you think about it. It will be a very long time before we ever come up with something better. It is too bad the AGW cult is causing people to try and replace it with less efficient methods.

              1. If you buy into carbon emissions you could use nuclear for electro hydrolysis and nearly get the US to zero emissions. I doubt the expense is worth it

                1. Florida Man,

                  I have never heard a straight story of how efficient that process really is. And if you went totally hydrogen, you would need a hell of a lot of it to power the country. That is a lot of nukes. Also, hydrogen is much harder to store and much more explosive in a crash than gasoline. I really wouldn’t want to be in a high speed crash with a tank of hydrogen in my car.

                  1. The prototype hydrogen I saw way back at an auto show use disks that are impregnated with hydrogen so they are less volatile. I think if gas is cheap enough it will never come online but if prices rise and subsidies flow to Toyota they may put of some hydrogen cars.

            2. They’re 10 years from dumping hybrids, but yeah, they’re working on it. They’ve been selling everyone else their previous-generation hybrid tech, so I don’t know what Ford and Hyundai are gonna do 5 years after Toyota drops the Prius.

              1. Hetero,

                They will stop selling hybrids. This shit will pass, you watch. Gas prices are going to go down and stay down, the supply has increased so much and people are gradually seeing through the AGW nonsense. Hybrid cars make no sense. At some point reality always breaks through the bullshit and is reflected in the market. It just takes a while sometimes.

                1. Hybrid cars make no sense.

                  Hybrids make some sense if you’re using it to boost performance or if they’re giving it away for free. You’re right, though: if you really care about the environment, go buy an ’88 CR-X.

                  1. I am still skeptical about it boosting performance. Yes a hybrid like the Porsche 918 or La Ferrari is scary fast. I am not convinced that they are any faster because of the hybrid tech. Porsche and Ferrari only put in the hybrid tech to meet the Cafe and emission standards. Take those away and I bet you they would have built just as fast of a car without hybrid tech.

                    1. I think the main thing the hybrid tech does for performance is the electric motor provides instant torque from zero RPM all the way through the RPM band. It’s kind of like the inverse of turbo lag. Instead of having to wait for the turbine to spool up, the power is there the instant you hit the accelerator. Which is huge for enhancing acceleration in particular. From what I hear, the most impressive thing about cars like the Porsche 918 is the instant power delivery and mind blowing acceleration.

                    2. They say that Loki, but power is only good if you can get it to the ground. There is no such thing as “instant acceleration”. The tires will only take so much torque so fast.

                      Yes, those cars have mind blowing acceleration. But so does something like a McClaran P1 or a 911 Turbo S. The Porsche 918 goes from zero to sixty in 2.8 seconds. That is certainly fast and as fast as a good sport bike. But a 2011 911 Turbo S does it in 2.9 seconds. That is within a tenth of a second with no hybrid.

                    3. Yes, that’s true, and you’re correct that non-hybrid cars can also be ridulously fast. I was just pointing out one potential performance enhancement that the hybrid technology is good for. BTW, the McLaren P1 is also a hybrid, so you probably shouldn’t have used that one as an example.

                    4. Loki,

                      I meant the old McCalaran F1.

            3. I read Toyota is moving away from hybrids to hydrogen fuel cells. I don’t know if this is science or marketing.

              Its neither – the US *government* has bet on H2 as the winner and to ensure it ‘wins’ they’ve decided to create all sorts of subsidies to help it along.

              1. The US govt bet on H2 12 years ago, the whole Hydrogen Fuel Initiative. After a few years of dumping a few billion into university research and the like, progress was disappointing and they stopped.

  4. Is Congress really the best organ for making decisions about road projects all around the nation?

    The Congress is an organ, all right. BOHICA: the Congresscritters have buds they want to channel money to.

  5. Cut the 25% of federal gas tax that goes to non-highway spending. Instant 33% increase in gas tax revenue available for highways. There you go.

    I’d also bet that as gas prices go down, consumption (and fed/state gas tax revenue) will increase.

    1. ^THIS^

      Our old congress critter Jim Oberstar was notorious for getting the feds to build all sorts of bike trails in Minnesoda.

      http://www.bicycleretailer.com…..KwPWSvF8aw

      I don’t know if he used this fund for paying for those bike trails or not, but he definitely liked spending other peoples’ money on shit like this.

  6. Lower fuel costs will most likely mean an increase in gas usage and therefore more tax revenue.

    1. And fewer hybrid car sales (more gas used) and more sales of less fuel efficient vehicles (more gas used).

    2. Don’t confuse these assholes with actual analysis Fist. Yes, lowering the marginal cost of driving is going to cause people to on the whole drive more and probably raise the revenue collected. But what is the fun in getting money that way? For people like Thune money only means something if it is made by stealing it.

  7. it’s a user fee, basically, that funds highway projects by charging people who drive.

    Its not a goddamned user fee.

    How much gas you consume (and the ‘revenue generated by that tax) has nothing to do with how much road you ‘consume’, let alone how much highway is ‘needed’.

    1. So how would a more accurate user fee work? Weight of vehicle and mileage traveled? I don’t think many libertarians (outside Virginia) want monitors at the roadside recording our comings and goings.

      1. Don’t get Bob Poole’s Surface Transportation “Innovations” newsletter from reason? GPS tracking, baby!

        1. Unfortunately I think the GPS tracking shit is going to happen sooner or later. For one thing if the progtards get their wish and everyone is forced to switch to electric cars or hybrids they’ll “need” to switch to some kind of true user fee based on miles driven and GVW. And of course, in progtopia, the glorious Europeans will adopt it and then we’ll get to listen to more prog fuming over how “backwards and uncivilized” we are compared to Europe until they eventually get their way.

          Besides, they’re already tracking our movements through our cell phones anyway.

      2. I don’t think many libertarians (outside Virginia) want monitors at the roadside recording our comings and goings.

        Certainly – that’s not desired, but just because some of the money from gas taxes goes to road building/maintenance and a genuine user fee would be too onerous to accept doesn’t make gas taxes a user fee.

        Effectively – there is no link between the money raised in gas taxes and the money needed to fund road maintenance. And this disconnect extends to road building, which is why you get lots of roads – increasing aggregate maintenance costs – when those extra roads may not have really been worth the expense.

        Tolls – those are user fees. Plenty of toll roads showing that you don’t need car by car, mile by mile tracking of individual vehicles to fund roads in the absence of a fuel tax.

        1. The problem with tolls is that they would be so ubiquitous and so expensive that they would quickly make driving unaffordable for all but the wealthy.

          Moreover, how exactly do you collect a toll on every road? It would cost a lot of money to do that.

          Gas taxes are not perfect, but no tax system is. Sometimes the good enough is good enough. The only people who have a problem with gas taxes paying for roads are fucking egghead like that dingbat Sarvos in Virginia who live in a fantasy world were all things must and can be perfectly efficient and fair. At some point, the cost of chasing efficiency and fairness outweighs the benefits.

          1. Good enough is good enough.

            I am not saying the alternatives are better.

            I am saying that a gas tax IS NOT A USER FEE.

            That’s it.

            However, as a side note, if tolls were able to make driving so expensive only the wealthy can afford it then maybe the current cost is too low and is being heavily subsidized?

            ie, more government distortion of the market, which inevitably leads to even more government distortion as they try to unfuck the ‘unintended consequences’?

            1. No roads are not underpriced. The tolls would be over priced because the government would jack them up and steal the money just like they do with gas taxes.

              Beyond that, even if it is, so be it. As I explain below, roads and cars are personal mobility and freedom. I don’t see how the government subsidizing mobility and freedom is a bad thing. My God, the government takes so much of our freedom, why the hell do so many Libertarians get so upset about the one thing the government does that gives us some of that freedom back?

              1. I see the government subsiding mobility and freedom as both inducing *dependence* and limiting freedom.

                why the hell do so many Libertarians get so upset about the one thing the government does that gives us some of that freedom back?

                Seriously? Robber takes your wallet, are you really going to be grateful if hands you cab fare before running off?

                1. I may not be happy about it, but I wouldn’t throw the cab fair in the gutter either. Yet, some Libertarians spend their lives doing just that bitching and moaning about the one thing government has ever done that gave them more freedom.

                  And again, the goal is freedom and personal autonomy, not perfect equality or efficiency in government. Ultimately building the interstate highway system made us more free. Anyone who claims that is a bad thing really isn’t a Libertarian in my book. They are just some form of small government supporting efficiency worshiper, because freedom clearly isn’t their ultimate value or goal if they object to the government helping them have more of it.

  8. NEEDZ MOAR DOGGY PARKS!

  9. Fuck these economic illiterate morons. Low gas prices are finally making things a bit better for the poor and middle class and these assholes want to undo the good so they can steal some more money. If they think the roads need to be fixed, take money from something else and fix the damned things or tell the states to do it. Don’t hit the economy in the knees and fuck every working person in this country out of the first meager improvement in their standard of living they have seen in about seven years.

    I hate these mother fuckers with the fire of a thousand suns. That son of a bitch Thune has probably never wanted for anything or had to worry about paying a bill in his entire life. And now he thinks it is a great idea to fuck those who do so he can get a few billion for ROADZ. Fuck him with a chainsaw.

    1. ^Best comment.

      Neither party has the best interest of the country or its citizens at heart.

  10. And funding projects with user fees is politically tricky, making shortfalls more likely, even when project funding is necessary.

    No, funding projects with user fees is not tricky. The only ‘trick’ is to only build stuff that the people who use it are willing to pay for.

    Its only tricky for people who want to build a road to nowhere and get paid a lot of money to do so.

    1. It is tricky because that means building shit where it is needed rather than wherever it makes various cronies rich. My God Agammamon, you don’t expect these people to stop stealing do you? Why the hell do you think they worked so hard to win the election if not to steal? If you can’t do that and have to start making decisions based on merits, what is the point? Hell, you might as well just throw in the towel and let the Democrats be in charge.

    2. I have never seen a time when funding a government project was ‘necessary.’

  11. How will we fund high speed rail if we don’t raise the gas tax?

  12. Sign should read:
    GAS TAXES

  13. A commenter spelled out the justification for raising gas taxes perfectly yesterday.

    “People have more money in their pockets. Let’s take it.”

    The party of stupid lied their asses off to get elected and now have control of both houses of congress. Living up to their name, they immediately begin betraying their base by acting just like the people they ousted.

    Suderman – “It’s not the worst idea imaginable…”

    Yes Peter, yes it is.

    1. Fuck Suderman too for even saying that. It is the Washington bubble of evil, ignorance, and utter disdain for the rest of the country. Suderman lives in Suburban Washington and I would be surprised if he even owns a car. I would be surprised if his wife can even drive one. So of course he likes the idea of taxing the proles and their icky cars and commuter lifestyles.

      1. Furthermore, why is it fair that everyone has to pay taxes for the Department of Education and public schools, but highways have to funded exclusively by user fees?

        Even fake libertarians who don’t own cars derive enormous benefit from the interstate highway system. Those shelves at the DuPont Circle Whole Foods don’t get restocked magically.

        1. That is a really good point. It is why I have never bought into the Libertarian dream of fully user only funded roads. Roads are an actual public good that everyone benefits from tremendously. I get the philosophical argument against the government doing much of anything. But as government funded goods go, roads are about the least bad thing on the list. Why Libertarians constantly and almost obsessively choose to die on that hill is beyond me.

          1. I think they/we die on that hill because it is the most common argument used against libertarians. If you grant roads are a public good where does it end? I’ll tell you where, abortions for some and tiny American flags for others, that’s where.

            1. It ends wherever you want it to. We had small government that also built roads and canals and ports for over a hundred years. Just because the government does some things doesn’t mean it has to do all things. If it did, then why have it do anything. If we let the government build jails and take criminals off the streets for the public good, where does it end?

              Libertarians are not anarchists. They support the government doing things and they support laws. There is nothing that says roads are inconsistent with that. All constantly arguing against them does is make the charges that Libertarians are just anarchists pretending in disguise stick.

              1. I think that is the point of anarchist. We had small government, what happened? It grew to have the most massive set of laws in the history of the world with a massive prison system. It’s a nice theory to have a small government but I don’t think it is any less a pipe dream than an anarchy.

                1. If you think no government can ever be controlled, then I suppose you should be an anarchist. That is fine and all but that is not being a Libertarian. It seems to be that being a Libertarian assumes that it is possible to have a small government and be able to control it such that it stays that way. If you don’t think that, then you are admitting that your ideology is impossible.

                  1. are admitting that your ideology is impossible.

                    Yes. Yes I am.

        2. Even fake libertarians who don’t own cars derive enormous benefit from the interstate highway system.

          See – you’re doing it here. Assuming that what *is* is what *had to be*.

          All the interstate system does is move cargo off trains and onto trucks on those interstates.

          Imagine if the interstate had never existed – do you really think we’d be poorer? Compared to what the money spent ot build those roads could have been used for if it stayed in the pocket of the people who earned it?

          All that pollution in the cities, caused by vehicles – driven by government policies which encouraged car ownership and use, which then required more government intervention to fix those problems.

          I imagine that, if left to its own, cargo would travel long distances by train and plane, people would travel long distances by plane, and cars would be used for short distance trips with limited road access between major areas.

          Instead we’re paving over the whole freaking country.

          1. Imagine if the interstate had never existed – do you really think we’d be poorer?

            Yes. We would. If for no other reason that it would be more expensive and harder to drive and travel. Travel is a good and making it being more expensive and harder makes us poorer.

            I imagine that, if left to its own, cargo would travel long distances by train and plane, people would travel long distances by plane, and cars would be used for short distance trips with limited road access between major areas.

            Maybe, but the country would be a much poorer and worse place for it. Those forms of transportation are collectivized and offer less freedom than roads and cars. Cars are freedom. If i have a car and a road, I can go whenever and wherever I want. With trains and planes I am stuck going at someone else’ schedule. The interstate highway system didn’t just buy us cheap transport, it bought us freedom.

            That is why Prog hate cars and roads so much. They allow people freedom Libertarians who object to the interstate highway system are allowing dogma to get in the way of their ultimate goal. The goal is freedom and independence, not some ideal form of perfectly funded government services. The interstate highway system gave us more real and personal freedom than anything else built or done in the last 100 years. It is therefore an unalloyed good, I don’t give a fuck what some pinhead Libertarian with their economics or public good text book says.

    2. I’m surprised nobody said this yet:

      “No, fuck you, cut spending.”

    3. Oh come on Suthen, I’m sure they can come up with lots of worse ideas. It is pretty shitty though.

      1. Sure. But the fact that Suderman bothers to mention that fact, implies that he doesn’t think it is a bad idea. Fuck Suderman with a chainsaw too.

        1. After Suderman is done with it, let Bob Poole ride the bar for his ridiculous tracking scheme. Sure Bob, your GPS data will never be used other than to calculate how much taxuser fee to pay.

          1. There isn’t a death horrible enough for the assholes who support that idea. Fuck you Bob, my privacy is more important than your eggheaded commitment to perfect “efficiency” in how you rob me.

  14. Come on, you guys- DEFLATION IS BAD, MMMMKAY?

    If you’re a “modern” economist, any price decrease, for any reason, is DEFLATION. The “business press” are freaking out about the damage which will be caused by the drop in oil prices.

    1. Not surprising but still un fucking believable. Basically anyone associated with the media or Wall Street is either retarded or so mendacious they might as well be retarded. There is no rational argument for low oil prices being anything but good.

    2. In matters of business and economics, the “business press” should never, ever, be consulted or considered.

    3. The other day I heard a news story about how many billions of dollars consumers will save by lower gas prices. I think lower prices will do more good than any stimulus bill. But God forbid the proles keep their money, instead of having it taken away and given back by the good graces of almighty government.

  15. The trust is paid for by a fuel tax of 18.4 cents per gallon, which has been level since 1993. Estimates from last summer put the shortfall around $170 billion. It’s currently being funded via an $11 billion stopgap measure that expires in May. The politicos who manage the fund are looking for ways to fill that pot.

    Step One: Raise taxes.
    Step Two: Spend all the money.
    Step Three: Plead poverty.
    Step Four: Raise taxes.
    Step Five: Spend all the money.
    Step Six: Plead poverty.
    Step Seven: Raise taxes.
    Step Eight: Spend all the money.
    Step Nine: Plead poverty.
    Step Ten: Raise Taxes.
    Step Eleven: Spend all the money.

    And the same storyline, told in perpetuity, on the soap opera we all know and love: As the Government Turns.

    1. How in the hell did they waste so much money that they managed to get a $170 billion shortfall? And what does that shortfall even mean? Short of what? Why is whatever they are collecting plus $170 billion the magic number needed for road construction? Perhaps they could make due with just a few hundred billion for once. Jesus, there is a real subversive thought.

      1. Choo Choo’s and Bike Lanes, that’s how.

        1. Yup. The scandal here is that the money isn’t being used to build roads. People are paying gas taxes thinking they are doing so to build roads only to see the money stolen to build shit douche bag white people like.

          If the GOP were anything but craven assholes, they would be passing a bill to restrict the use of these funds to roads only. And when the Dems screamed bloody murder, they would go right back at them by asking why the hell working Americans should be paying taxes to support shit primarily used by rich white people. They need to go populist but go populist in the right way.

          They are fucking hopeless.

      2. hey, that bridge to Nowhere in Alaska needs to be maintained now.

  16. my buddy’s mother-in-law makes $61 an hour on the internet . She has been out of work for five months but last month her pay check was $19835 just working on the internet for a few hours. linked here………
    ????? http://www.netjob70.com

  17. There is no highway trust fund.All monies go in to the treasury and congress spends them.It’s a bullshit accounting trick.Much of the ‘highway’ funds are used for other things.Get rid of the federal gas tax and let the states handle it.By sending gas taxes to Washington 25 to 40% are eaten up in adnin. costs and other programs.

    1. Not true, its in a lock box right next to the money I paid into social security.

      1. Al Gore has the key.

  18. I support sales taxes as a substitute for income taxes–and whatever justification they need to sell that to the American public is fine with me. …just so long as they slash income taxes by whatever amount they raise sales taxes.

    Morally, sales taxes are the most voluntary form of taxation–certainly more so than income taxes. I get to decide whether I want to pay the tax when I decide whether I want to buy something. From a moral perspective, income taxes are disgraceful. “You owe us money becasue you earned it” shouldn’t make sense to anyone. That’s plain robbery–like “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”.

    Income taxes are much worse from an economic efficiency perspective, too. For instance, income taxes artificially increase the cost of hiring unemployed people. If I have to pay my employees 25% on top of their take home pay, just so they can afford to pay their income taxes, then that means the income tax makes hiring unemployed people cost 25% more than they would otherwise.

    Does any of that stuff change just because it’s oil they want to tax?

    No.

    Does any of that stuff change if they use environmentalism as an excuse to slash income taxes?

    No.

    My only question is whether they’re going to cut taxes by a similar amount elsewhere. If they’re going to do this to slash income taxes, then I’m all for it.

    P.S. I’d support it if they used this as an excuse to get rid of capital gains taxes, as well.

    1. Sales taxes or no more voluntary than income taxes. Hell Ken, you don’t have to work do you? Saying you don’t have to work makes as much sense as saying “you don’t have to buy anything”. The money is only good because you can buy shit with it.

      The problem with sales taxes is that they are a tax on transactions. They make every transaction more expensive that it should be and discourage them. Since all voluntary transactions are by definition mutually beneficial to the parties involved, otherwise, why would they be doing it, every time you discourage transactions you get a little poorer than you otherwise would have been. Sales taxes have the same disincentive effect on trade that income taxes have on working.

      There is no good way to tax. Taxes are a necessary evil for sure. But they will always be an evil. There is no way to pretend otherwise.

      1. I agree that all taxes are theft, but I think a sales tax is overall better than an income tax for several reasons.

        1. More inclusive. Hookers buy bread and drug dealers buy shoes, when people who get their money from off the book jobs spend that money, they’ll pay taxes.

        2. Lowered cost of compliance.Drastically cuts the demand for IRS agents.

        3. It’s more honest. Most people in this country have no idea how much they pay in taxes. With a sales tax, that information is right there on the receipt in black and white.

        1. The taxes are only as inclusive as the government’s willingness to collect them. Hookers can duck sales taxes just like they duck income taxes. Indeed, state sales taxes miss a lot of private transactions just like income taxes miss private transactions in labor. I don’t think a national sales tax would make the government any less heavy handed that it is with the income tax. They would just be out going after businesses instead of individuals.

          And it wouldn’t necessarily reduce compliance cost. The reason why income taxes have compliance costs is because we have made them so complex. The same thing would happen with a sales tax. Congress would carve out all kinds of exceptions and paying a national sales tax would end up being just as complex or perhaps even more complex than paying income taxes.

          And sales taxes are often less honest. You don’t see the effect of a VAT on a price. You just see the price. Indeed, that is one of the reason why so many politicians love the idea of a VAT, they think they can jack the shit out of it without the public noticing as much as they would raising income taxes.

          I have never been a fan of sales taxes.

          1. I wasn’t talking about a VAT, just a national retail sales tax.

            1. It would work the same way. You still have to collect it and Congress would still riddle it full of holes and exceptions.

          2. Agreeing with John here.

            We essentially used to have national sales taxes on lots of items, and we still do. They’re called “excise taxes” and gasoline is nationally sales taxed. It’s just a flat dollar tax per gallon rather than a percentage rate. But it is still a national sales tax just the same. We have bottled beer because the federal government used to tax beer barrels.

            We’ve slowly converted to income taxes over sales taxes at the national level because it was (originally) simpler to enforce and harder to avoid. Naturally, politicians (and the shitbirds that vote for them) have complicated the income tax code to the point where it is more confusing than the original excise tax system it replaced and costs more to enforce.

            The national-gas-excise-tax-funds-the-highway-system is one of the simplest and fairest government programs we’ve had. We are determined to fuck that up, too.

        2. 1. More inclusive.

          Why is this a good thing? I want fewer people to be taxed, not more.

          1. If I’m going to pay taxes, by god, it should be equitable. If I’m required to pay for some nebulous government service, EVERYBODY needs to pay for the nebulous government service, and EVERYBODY needs to pay the same dollar amount.

            1. I love the idea of a national sales tax instead of income tax. All drug dealers and tax cheats would not get away from paying any longer and working under the table would not exist any longer. It is the only fair way (if there is such a thing) to tax the American people. If would be nice to not be taxed when saving your money and only when spending it.

      2. I don’t grant that they are necessary.

      3. “Sales taxes or no more voluntary than income taxes.”

        Yes they are–especially if they’re on something specific like oil.

        It’s a lot easier for people to substitute away from using oil than it is to substitute away from working. They regularly substitute away from oil every time the price goes up.

        “The problem with sales taxes is that they are a tax on transactions.”

        Well, there’s your fundamental misunderstanding of economics showing again, John.

        Individuals making choices based on the cost of things with every transaction is fundamentally better than a blanket percentage tax on people’s labor–without question–and that’s because those costs are borne by each transaction.

        You see, people are better at making choices for themselves about how much they’re willing to pay for things than the government is at making those choices for them. That’s why free markets are better than central planning, John. And if you knew the first thing about economics, you would know that.

        Yes, individuals deciding whether they’re willing to pay the cost of the tax–in each transaction they make–is much more economically efficient than an income tax being imposed on them by central planners.

        And the sky is blue.

        And it will be warmer come summer.

        And water is wet.

        Let me know if you have any other questions.

        1. You’re talking about taxes on specific items. That’s not a sales tax, that’s a sin tax. And it’s the worst of all worlds.

          1. I’m talking about picking from the choices that I think are or could be politically viable.

            And, no, sin taxes aren’t the worst of all worlds. Socialism is the worst of all worlds–and the income tax is redistributive socialism.

            From each according to his ability (to produce) to each according to their needs? Yeah, fuck that. I’d rather pay a sales tax–if and when I choose to.

        2. It’s a lot easier for people to substitute away from using oil

          Gas, maybe you can find substitutes for. Maybe. Although a lot of people really can’t,

          Oil? You’re shitting me, right? Oil goes into everything, and you buy barrels of it indirectly every month, even if you don’t buy a drop of gasoline. There’s no substituting for oil in our economy.

          than it is to substitute away from working.

          Millions cashing welfare checks would disagree.

          1. Yes, gasoline is easier for people to substitute away from than oil.

            Although people (and manufacturers) do substitute away from oil, too–it is harder.

            Hell, ten years (or so) ago, the price of oil was so high, it was less expensive to do a whole distribution warehouse parking lot in concrete rather than asphalt. Lots of people were making that substitution back then.

            People were moving from the Northeast, where they have to use a lot of heating oil in the winter, to the more temperate South and Southwest, too–another example of substitution.

            So, yeah, gasoline is easier to substitute away from (no, we’re not going to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving this year); oil isn’t as easy as gasoline–and substituting away from working for a living is practically impossible and generally undesirable.

            …can anybody think of why it’s good for the economy when highly skilled or potentially productive workers choose to retire or stay homemakers instead? Why it’s good for our unemployed underclass to go on welfare rather than have more opportunities work?

            1. People were moving from the Northeast, where they have to use a lot of heating oil in the winter, to the more temperate South and Southwest, too–another example of substitution.

              None of that movement without air conditioning. So instead of spending X dollars on heating they’re spending X dollars on cooling. There is no substitution going on at all in that example if you remove your selective endpoints of “winter”.

              1. Actually, it doesn’t work that way. Some places are more temperate than others.

                My folks moved to San Diego decades ago. Their place (nice house!) didn’t have air conditioning. They put it in a few years ago, but they hardly ever use it.

                If you want to compare cooling degree days and warming degree days, there are plenty of websites that will let you do that for various locations.

                I suspect you’ll find that people continue to migrate from places with more cooling and heating degree days towards places with fewer cooling and heating degree days.

                Although the housing bubble bursting may have put a kink in that trend.

          2. Not to mention the inherent efficiency of oil. Nearly all the substitutions an individual can make are less efficient. If we could power our cars on mini-reactors it might be more efficient, but then you have a trade-off in the volatility of the handling.

        3. Yes they are–especially if they’re on something specific like oil.

          Sure Ken, just stop using oil if you don’t want to pay the tax. Yeah, that will be real easy. Think about what you are saying. You are not taxing some luxury good. You are taxing an essential good most of the country needs to go to work and make a living. There is nothing voluntary about that.

          And Ken your economic analysis of sales taxes is so stupid it doesn’t even qualify as wrong. Seriously, your understanding of economic analysis is so bad, I am not even sure how to approach debasing you of it.

          The simple fact is that sales taxes, by raising the price of a transaction above what it would normally be, cause people to make fewer of that transaction. In short, if you tax something, you make it more expensive that it would have been and you end up with less of it. It is really that simple. The fact that you can’t understand that says that it is pointless to try and explain this further. I have met people who know nothing about economics. But I have never met someone who knows more wrong things about economics than you.

          1. “Sure Ken, just stop using oil if you don’t want to pay the tax. Yeah, that will be real easy.”

            This is yet another example of John thinking that other people are ignorant because he doesn’t understand what they’re saying.

            …which is giving him the benefit of the doubt–because the other explanation is that he thinks something absurd, like: 1) Does he think the demand for oil is perfectly inelastic? 2) …?

            Consumers respond to the price of oil, John. In fact, one of the reasons the price of oil is dropping is because the market doesn’t think China is going to need as much of it as they thought they were going to need before.

            Even here in the U.S., people substitute away when prices rise. They move closer to work, so they don’t have to drive as far; they skip the trip to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving and only go for Christmas, etc. This is the way markets work.

        4. Individuals making choices based on the cost of things with every transaction is fundamentally better than a blanket percentage tax on people’s labor-

          That is debatable. For one, it sounds like the system is by definition much more complicated than an income tax. So you spend more time on collection and enforcement and the whole thing is less efficient and wasteful. The national income tax could be extremely simple if the government wanted it to be and those who chose to be mostly self-supporting (aka subsistence farming) would not be subject to taxation merely for purchasing labor.

          Trying to morally rank selling labor versus consuming labor in order to justify your preference is rather foolish.

          1. “That is debatable. For one, it sounds like the system is by definition much more complicated than an income tax. So you spend more time on collection and enforcement and the whole thing is less efficient and wasteful.”

            We already have sales taxes. We already have taxes on gasoline.

            Instituting sales taxes isn’t as complicated and difficult to collect as income taxes. You’re forcing hundreds of millions of Americans to send in their income tax documents every year–you’re hiring however many thousands of people at the IRS to go through those tax returns. You’re using the courts to prosecute thousands of people every year who game the income tax system. You’re forcing every company in the country to track the income taxes they pay on their employees’ behalf…

            And you think the way we collect and enforce sales taxes is more complicated than that?

            That doesn’t make sense.

          2. “Trying to morally rank selling labor versus consuming labor in order to justify your preference is rather foolish.”

            I wasn’t ranking selling labor or consuming labor–I was ranking some measure of volition higher than no volition at all.

            Respecting other people’s right to make choices for themselves is what libertarian morality is all about. Sales taxes respect the right of the taxpayer to make choices for themselves to a much greater extent than the income tax does–and sales taxes are morally superior to income taxes because of it.

            Hell, if they institute a new sales tax on something, you may not have to pay any of it at all (directly) if you don’t want to. People can certainly substitute away from gasoline a lot easier than they can substitute away from not working.

      4. And, let’s face it, income taxes 8are* a sales tax – a tax on the sale of your labor.

        1. Absolutely. And without the inefficiency of taxing the transaction.

        2. Even if that were true, saying that working for your own benefit is a crime unless you pay taxes on your own labor is much more oppressive than paying a tax on something like oil or gasoline.

          Even if income taxes were a sales tax on labor, how much more of an oppressive thing could you tax? What could they tax that would be harder to substitute away from?

          Breathing? If they taxed you for breathing, that would be more oppressive than taxing labor. …although taxing breathing might cause fewer distortions in the labor market.

          How many unemployed people would be hired today if their labor weren’t taxed as much as 39.6%?

    2. The reason you will never see a consumption tax is that it makes it impossible to buy votes by stealing money from one group to pay for the benefits of another. The bottom 50% would actually have skin in the game and how are you going to convince them to vote for you if you can’t give half the population free shit?

      1. it makes it impossible to buy votes by stealing money from one group to pay for the benefits of another

        Oh no it doesn’t. You can make exceptions to a consumption tax just like you do with an income tax. Come on Fransisco, why do you want to charge a consumption tax on children buying school supplies, what do you hate children? And what about people buying heating oil to heat their homes, we can’t tax that. Just name the product or the industry and you can easily construct a justification to exempt it or reduce the consumption tax altogether. You way underestimate Congress’ ability to steal and peddle influence. These people are professionals at that. Don’t challenge them with your primitive little consumption tax and think you are going to slow them down.

      2. “The reason you will never see a consumption tax is that it makes it impossible to buy votes by stealing money from one group to pay for the benefits of another. The bottom 50% would actually have skin in the game and how are you going to convince them to vote for you if you can’t give half the population free shit?”

        I agree that the political salesmanship on such a plan is tough. To get something like that through, we’re going to have to split the left by giving some of them something they want more than other people’s money.

        I think climate change is one issue that could do that. They’re blown so much hot air over climate change, how could they back-peddle on that issue if we offered to hike taxes on oil in exchange for a repeal of the income tax?

        And we can start getting rid of the income tax from the bottom up. People who make less than $35,000 a year pay less than 10% of the income tax. We can start slashing it for them, first. Let the left explain why they’re trying to keep taxes on the working poor–and the capitalists are trying to get rid of those taxes.

        1. Yeah, Ken, lets make energy artifically expensive. That is the ticket to prosperity. The reason why the Greens would buy a tax on oil is because they rightly think it would cause people to use less of it. Since oil is essential to about 90% of our economy, using less of it means being poorer than we otherwise would have been.

          And don’t tell me that we will just get more efficient to make up for the tax. “Getting more efficient” costs money. All it does is make up for some of the cost of the tax. But it never will get you back to where you would have been had the tax not been there. People always have a reason to be as efficient as possible. The fact that they will continue to do that under a tax oil scheme, just means you will forgo less wealth than without it, but you are still poorer than you would have been without the tax.

  19. Perhaps, instead of raising taxes, they might spend some of that extra $3T the government takes in every year that provides ZERO benefit.

    Just a thought.

  20. I have a coworker whose son works as a paramedic. If they arrive at the seen of an accident with a hybrid and see fluids leaking from the vehicle, they call hazmat and wait for them to come confirm that it is safe enough for the paramedics to come work on anyone hurt in the vehicles.

    You wouldn’t want them to just toss a $.29 box of Arm and Hammer baking soda on the dash of the ambulance. That would make too much sense.

    1. Battery acid and gasoline make for very, very toxic fumes.

      1. Rather, I guess it is lithium ion batteries and gasoline that causes problems.

        1. That’s what gas masks and respirators are for.

  21. From a moral perspective, income taxes are disgraceful. “You owe us money becasue you earned it” shouldn’t make sense to anyone. That’s plain robbery–like “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”.

    Oh, bullshit. Why is a consumption tax on labor (or knowledge) any different than a consumption tax on tangible goods? It’s just a question of structure.

    That “sanctity of labor” argument just makes you sound hysterical.

    1. It is not Brooks. There is no fucking difference. Both involve taking your wealth away to support the government. You are exactly right.

    2. “Why is a consumption tax on labor (or knowledge) any different than a consumption tax on tangible goods?”

      Well, for starters, one of them is redistributive.

      Can’t have redistributive socialism without an income tax, can you?

      What’s “to each according to their need”, without “from each according to their ability”? The income tax is the absolute cornerstone of socialism.

      Can’t have socialism without an income tax, but you can sure as hell have capitalism with a sales tax.

      And, again, there’s the moral side of the equation. Saying I owe you money–specifically because I earned it–is fundamentally immoral. Throwing people in prison because they don’t fork over however much of their paycheck the central planners in Congress decide is fundamentally immoral, too.

      Morally, it’s almost as bad as the individual mandate. There’s no acquiescence or volition component to the income tax at all. It’s something you owe because you earned money for yourself. The income tax makes it a crime to work for your own benefit without handing over a share to the government.

      It’s almost as bad as saying you owe the government something because you exist. It’s almost as bad as the government saying that you have to eat broccoli, and it’s much worse than saying that if you choose to buy broccoli, you have to pay a sales tax on it.

  22. And- why the fuck should “services” be exempt from sales tax? The more you differentiate and exclude types of revenue, the more you irrationally burden some workers and privilege others.

    1. If your a barber,like me,your service charge is your income or hourly rate.Why should I pay state and federal income tax and self employment tax and sales tax on my income?When I sell product,which I buy wholesale with no tax,I charge sales tax like every one else does. BTY,WV charges me a B&O tax based on my gross,not profit.When every one in this country pays sales tax on their payroll look me up.

      1. you want to make every barber,plumber,ect, and those who employ them pay sales tax on their labor?

        1. They already do. It’s called “income tax”.

    2. Mathematically speaking services are taxed annually at income tax time rather than transitionally. Makes a shitload more sense.

      My barber can charge me $20 for a haircut and after 12 haircuts can pay the income tax ONCE. Or he can charge me $16 + $4 sales tax and pay the government on 12 separate transactions.

      The latter takes 12x more government.

  23. I guess it is lithium ion batteries and gasoline that causes problems.

    That makes more sense. I was thinking more of baking soda as being a quick-and-dirty test for ruptured batteries. On further reflection, I don’t know if hybrid batteries are even wet.

  24. Til I looked at the bank draft that said $9222 , I didn’t believe that my father in law woz like they say actualey bringing home money part-time on their laptop. . there best friend has been doing this 4 only about 1 year and just now repayed the morgage on there villa and bourt a brand new audi .
    Check This Out ………….. http://www.jobsfish.com

    1. He must be cheating on his taxes.

  25. This another way of saying, “yes, but I don’t want to just say ‘yes’.”

    This is the standard way of saying “Fuck you that’s why.”

  26. The trust is paid for by a fuel tax of 18.4 cents per gallon, which has been level since 1993.

    So instead of saying “but I think we have to look at all the options” he could have said “The flat dollar-amount tax has been the same for over 20 years despite umpteen rounds of Quantitative Easing. We have to raise the tax to get back what the Fed ate away by devaluing the dollar. If you don’t like taxes being raised you should support my legislation that will return the dollar to sound backing rather than the dollar’s current backing of taxpayer productivity.”

    But he’s probably a dumbfuck or dishonest or both.

  27. “it’s a user fee, basically, that funds highway projects by charging people who drive.”

    Not exactly.

    The gas tax revenue is used for all sorts of things other than roads – like mass transit boondoggles.

    20% of federal highway gas tax collections are set aside for mass transit projects. Money also goes for bike paths, greenways and a bunck of other stuff.

    Stop diverting drivers money to all that stuff and get rid of the Davis-Bacon Act that forces drivers to pay for overpriced union labor on every construction contract and then we’ll actaully be able to tell whether the gas tax needs to be raised or not to cover the assets that drivers actually use – roads and bridges.

    1. All of that and a bag of chips Gilbert. Get rid of the mass transit bullshit and stop making the government overpay to build roads. Do that, and there wouldn’t be a shortage of money.

  28. my best friend’s mother-in-law makes $88 an hour on the laptop . She has been without a job for ten months but last month her check was $12564 just working on the laptop for a few hours. check out here………
    ????? http://www.netjob70.com

  29. Yeah a really good idea, that way when the good times run out and the price goes up the gas will cost even more. Some politicians really try to ruin anything good that happens to the citizens.

  30. So where exactly is there something showing that republicans want to raise gas taxes? Because neither this article, or any links in it, get to that conclusion.

    Is this another article like the ‘Obama’s good on the war on drugs’ article?

  31. Democrats: Dictatorial, socialistic, economically ignorant, spendaholics.

    Republicans: Authoritarian, religiously obnoxious, economically hypocritical, spendaholics.

  32. With CA raising the price of gas under the guise of cap-and-trade (AB32), we don’t need to be hit with a Federal tax increase also, as we already have the most expensive gas in the country.

  33. So when gas prices go back up, they’ll cut the taxes right? Just like they did last time?

    Faugh!

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