Considering a net-zero gas tax

|  January 07, 2009 |

One thing I hate to see conservatives do is to agitate against gas taxes. As taxes go it’s a fair one. Almost all the money goes to highway construction and maintenance, it’s the lowest gas tax in the civilized world, and it hasn’t been adjusted for inflation in more than a decade. Yet John McCain and Hillary Clinton both floated trail balloons about a “gas tax holiday” last year. (A lot of good it did them!)

Now conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer has come up with an idea for a net-zero gas tax. His proposal puts a $1 a gallon tax on gas and offsets it with a equal reduction in everyone’s FICA payroll taxes. This has all the advantages of helping to wean us off foreign oil, lowering emissions, improving our balance of trade and funding our infrastructure improvements properly–but most people will not suffer any out-of-pocket losses due to the offsetting FICA tax reduction.

The one caveat I’d like to see included in Krauthammer’s proposal is to exempt diesel used for commercial purposes, including construction and trucking, from the taxes. Taxing commercial truck fuel would be inflationary and taxing off road diesel would reduce the amount of infrastructure that could be built using these tax revenues.

Read the whole thing.

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