Start Making Sense
America must end its denial about gas taxes.
Monday, December 8, 2008; A18
THERE IS a certain unreal quality to current debate over the state of the U.S. economy, national security and the environment. As Detroit’s Big Three automakers approach bankruptcy, dangerous oil-exporting states threaten international stability and climate change continues unchecked, Congress and the incoming Obama administration ponder costly and complex proposals to address these related crises. Under consideration are tens of billions of dollars in loans to the car companies; sanctions and diplomacy targeted at Iran, Russia and others; and a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions. Each of these may have its place. What’s striking, though, is that the only idea that seems to be off the table is the one that would address all three concerns directly and efficiently: higher gas taxes. This step would stimulate the market for new fuel-efficient cars; defund mischief-making petro-states; and cut carbon emissions. Not only that, it would reduce traffic, curb urban sprawl and, by giving drivers an incentive to drive more slowly, improve highway safety.
America’s state of denial about fuel taxes is not new. But the time has come for it to end. . . .