After opposing any increases in the gas tax for decades, the National Chamber of Commerce said yesterday its going to start promoting a plan to raise the tax from 18.5 cents a gallon to 28.5 cents a gallon. The group is organizing a six figure advertising blitz to recommend the increase as a way to get control of our crumbling infrastructure and put the construction industry back to work. The chamber’s plan calls for an immediate 10 cents a gallon increase, followed by annual increases of 5 cents a gallon for several years.
The timing is certainly good, with prices at the pump low and more than a year before the next election cycle. And the chamber has plenty of support in other quarters. In fact the only obstacle to getting this big boost for construction spending would be those politicians who are afraid of getting shot at with anti-tax soundbites from the shallow end of the media gene pool.
It would help if in their ad campaign the chamber would make the point that it’s not a tax at all; but a user fee. And a boost in the gas tax might provide enough construction work to make a second stimulus spending bill unnecessary. Properly informed the vast majority of the people in this country would have no problem with these increases. It certainly beats the government taking money from me to bail out banks and auto companies or pay for somebody else’s health care. The only thing that prevented a gas tax increase in the past is that the construction industry has done a terrible job of lobbying Congress and explaining the fairness and merits of the gas tax to the public.