March 15, 2016 AD
A story from the Washington Examiner reports on a recommendation from economist Chad Shirley who serves in the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Chad’s bureaucratic brilliance suggests taxing drivers by the mile to increase funding for federal highways.
Is if fair for me to point out the obvious? May I?
We are already taxed by the mile, some of us pay more per mile than others. This tax-by-the-mile is called a fuel tax. For every mile we drive, we pay tax on each gallon of fuel consumed.
Why has highway repair and construction fallen behind the growth in population? Is it not logical that more cars on the road should also produce more tax revenue? Yes, it would be logical if not for CAFE standards. Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards were first imposed on us in 1975, steadily becoming more stringent year by year.
You see bureaucratic logic thinks in terms of limited resources. This is the thinking behind so-called “renewable energy”. The idea was and is the government must help us by forcing us to use less energy. Well, the idea at first blush seems reasonable, given that we have very limited oil and gas resources. However, today we have more oil and gas than any time in all our history. We are awash in a see of surplus oil from shale production from private lands. If we were to exploit shale resources on federal lands, the gas stations would be paying us to take it away from them.
Bottom line: CAFE standards have forced us into smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles, thereby reducing the sale of motor fuels. Lower sales per population of motor fuels means lower tax revenues for highway construction and maintenance.
I remind you of Ronald Reagan’s warning about the most terrifying words in the English language.
No, Mr. Chad Shirley. Thank you for your offer to help us, but we’ll do well if left to free-market principles. Bureaucratic “help” has had the opposite effect on us than was intended. Another example of failed bureaucratic “help” is ObamaCare.
Over the last eight years national debt has doubled the sum of all previous national debt from 1776 until 2008.
Tell your Congressional delegation to say no to more taxes and yes to free-market principles. Doubling taxation on motorists will not improve highway funding; it will reduce miles driven, thereby actually reducing highway funds.