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Sixteen Years and Counting... We Still Can't Raise the Gas Tax

The House of Representatives half of Congress was fighting over transportation funding this week and the big sticking point for House Republicans-the one that brought things to a standstill-is the issue of the gas tax.Rep. James L. Oberstar, D-Minn., who chairs the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has proposed a new six-year, $500 billion funding bill, partly funded by the first increase in gasoline and diesel taxes since 1993.Because of those "gasoline and diesel taxes," Oberstar's bill is stuck, and, with a new funding system stalled, the House has just voted to extend the 2005 federal infrastructure law. The Republican leadership in the House, especially House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), just couldn't abide the idea of higher taxes on gas.So how outrageously high are U.S. gas taxes? Have a look at the chart below (from the Center for Global Development). Down at the bottom, to be exact.

Forget about the revenue from a gas tax-which could be substantial-and how it's spent. Higher gas prices would just help cut down on unnecessary driving; get people in buses and on bikes; and provide another incentive to buy fuel efficient cars, hybrids, or EVs.Last summer when gas prices were so high people noticed that $4 per gallon was the price at which people's behavior really started to change. We should just establish a dynamic tax that keeps the price of gas at $4 or above, no matter what. Charles Krauthammer likes the idea. GM's CEO thinks it's "worth considering" too.

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