A DOA Idea: Raising the Federal Gas Tax
Just last Friday, Connecticut’s junior US Senator, Chris Murphy, proposed a hike in the federal gas tax, insisting it could be used for the repair of Connecticut’s infrastructure.
No doubt infrastructure is important — one of government’s true, legitimate tasks. After all, it’s hard for people to go about their business, for commerce to operate efficiently, for goods and services to get around with a failed transportation system and bad infrastructure.
But a raise in the federal gas tax? Hold on a minute.
As Senator Murphy calls for what are effectively higher gas prices, is he aware that Connecticut’s residents already suffer under the third highest gas taxes in the nation — a whopping 49.3 cents per gallon?
Does he know that — as with all the plans for higher energy costs coming out of Washington — more expensive gas will preferentially hurt those with lower and/or fixed incomes, especially the working poor?
And does he realize that the funds collected through previous increases in Connecticut’s gas tax — that were supposed to go to transportation — have been raided by state politicians to cover general state operating expenses?
Any tax that disproportionately hurt the working poor is a terrible idea, lacking in compassion. But if Senator Murphy at least coupled his plan for higher state federal gas taxes with (1) a call for lowering the state gas tax; (2) a plea for politicians to devote the funds derived from earlier state gas tax hikes to the transportation issues for which they were intended; and (3) there were any sign that there was even an inkling of bipartisan agreement on the need for federal gas tax increases (keeping in mind that the tax hasn’t been raised since 1993) perhaps Senator Murphy’s proposal would be worth taking seriously.
As circumstances currently exist, however, it’s frankly just . . . posturing.