Is the Federal Fuel Tax About to be Cut?

It what will amount to an absolutely asinine and incredibly stupid move should it happen, some members of Congress may oppose the renewal of the federal gasoline and diesel fuel tax when it is set to expire this fall. This tax generates revenue which is used to keep our highways from falling apart.

Considering our nation’s infrastructure is crumbling, now seems like the perfect time to pull the plug on the tax, right?

In an article published on CNN Money entitled “Gas Tax May Be Next Tea Party Target,” author Steve Hargreaves discusses what exactly is at stake:

A bill was recently introduced by Senate Republicans that would allow states to opt out of the federal highway program. The highway program uses $32 billion each year collected by the gas tax, plus a handful of smaller fees and some borrowing to distribute some $50 billion a year to the states for road construction, maintenance and mass transit projects.

That represents about 28% of all road and transit spending nationwide, with the rest coming from states or towns in the form of tolls, registration and user fees, state gas taxes or their general funds.

The argument for cutting the federal tax is that highways would be better served by state and local governments, which could raise their fuel taxes, should they choose.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for states’ rights and less Federal oversight, but at a time when state and local governments are running massive deficits and having to slash their budgets left and right, is this really the time to put the burden of the nation’s highway system on them?

My fear is that the gas taxes would go up at the state level, only to fund non-highway and transportation projects, leaving us with even worse road than we already have.

Besides, as most of you know, I want the Federal gas tax raised as a means of forcing people to change their driving habits and for the government to use the proceeds to invest in renewable energy development. (Yes, I know that’s a contradiction to my less Federal oversight comment. Deal with it.)

Anyway, tell me your thoughts on this. Good idea? Bad idea? Leave a comment below and, as always, please share this post using the social bookmarking buttons – especially Facebook and Twitter.

How the New Fuel Economy Standards Could Kill The Economy

I’ll be upfront with this, I don’t believe that the White House’s soon to be proposed higher fuel economy standards are going to kill the economy. I just don’t think it’s realistic. In fact, I tend to be on the other side of the argument and believe the new standards would create jobs, largely due to more people around the world 1) owning cars and 2) wanting more fuel efficient vehicles.

Just think, if America led the way in fuel efficient vehicle production, how in the world could that be a job killer?

In an article entitled “Obama’s Fuel Economy Standards Threaten the Economy,” Peter Roff of U.S. News states the proposed fuel economy standards would kill jobs and hurt the economy:

Thanks to Obama, the U.S. government now has three agencies–the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the California Air Resources Board–involved in the effort to improve through mandates the fuel economy of U.S. passenger vehicles.

Before 2009, when the current administration added EPA and CARB to the mix, the issue was more or less the sole province of NHTSA.

Why the change? Under the old rules Congress required NHTSA to consider what an increase in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy or CAFE standard would do to jobs and to the affordability and safety of vehicles in the U.S. passenger fleet. EPA and CARB are bound by no such rules; indeed CARB, as a state agency, is largely outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. Congress–which is probably why EPA and CARB are the ones drafting the next round of fuel economy regulations.

Federal regulators at the EPA, working with their counterparts in Sacramento at CARB, are trying to get around Congress in an effort to mandate that the CAFE standard be bumped all the way up to 56 miles per gallon for model years 2017 to 2025, a move that is certain to batter the already teetering U.S. auto industry even further while making cars less safe and more expensive.

(If you’ll look at Roff’s bio, you’ll see he’s a contributor to Fox News, which may explain his slant on things.)

I don’t think Obama included the EPA and the CARB as a means of thwarting the EPA’s authority regarding fuel economy. If you look at Obama as a person, he’s much more of a collaborator, so it makes sense that he would bring these three like-minded agencies together in order to solve this problem.

Also, I would like proof that raising fuel economy standards over the next 15 years is going to “batter the already teetering U.S. auto industry.” As I stated before, I tend to think the improved fuel economy standards would do the opposite. Then again, what do I know, I’m just a blogger.

What do you think? Would the new fuel economy standards kill the economy and auto industry? Leave your thoughts below and, as always, please share this post using the social bookmarking buttons below – especially Facebook and Twitter!

Fuel Economy Standards – It’s Time to Crap or Get off the Pot

Remember when I said the Alliance for Automobile Manufacturers had cancelled their radio ad campaign against the proposed increase in fuel economy standards? Yeah, turns out that’s back on – in addiction to a competing ad trumpeting the benefits of pushing fuel economy standards to 60 mpg!

According to an article published by the Detroit Free Press entitled “Fuel Economy Standards Battle Heats Up on Airwaves,”  Aaron Kessler writes that things are getting pretty contentuous between the two opposing sides:

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Let's be honest, if we leave it up to Washington, this stuff is never going to get figured out.

The ad war over fuel economy standards ratcheted up again today, as both sides of the debate are increasingly turning to the airwaves to make their case and put pressure on Washington decision-makers.

Go60MPG, a coalition of environmental groups supporting a fleet average of 60 miles per gallon by 2025, is launching radio ads today on Washington-area stations touting the benefits of a high fuel economy standard.

The consumer-targeted ad will feature a voice saying: “What if there was a way to create tens of thousands of new jobs, keep billions of dollars in the U.S. economy that now go overseas, and also make it possible for you to pay less at the gas pump?”

It goes on to state that “experts say 60 m.p.g. would mean 700,000 new jobs in the USA,” and that “best of all for consumers, 60 m.p.g. would mean $650 billion in savings at the gas pump.”

He goes on to say:

The automakers’ ad campaign through the Alliance for Automobile Manufacturers was nearly canceled after opposition from General Motors, Chrysler and Toyota. But a second vote Thursday among all of the Alliance members meant the ads would continue through this week, and possibly longer. They claim a 56 m.p.g. target would cost jobs and limit consumer choices.

(CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE)

Personally, I think this whole thing is stupid and just goes to show how much corporations and their deep pockets influence our political system. That being said, this isn’t the Huffington Post, so I’ll just talk about fuel economy.

As I’ve stated before, I think the government needs to attack our fuel consumption from two sides:

  1. Increase fuel economy standards: we’re technologically advanced enough to get better fuel economy out of most vehicles. Just get it done.
  2. Increase the fuel tax: I truly believe this is the only way they will ever be able to get people to substantially alter their driving habits

Increasing the fuel economy standards helps to offset the pain at the pump brought about by the higher fuel costs, although probably not enough to make it a net gain/loss $0.

That being said, it’s time to crap or get off the pot. JUST DO SOMETHING!

What are your thoughts? Leave your comments below and, as always, please share this post using the social bookmarking buttons below – especially Facebook and Twitter!

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