WSJ: Gas Taxes?

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Everybody knows….EVERYBODY KNOWS!…that the only reasonable way for the U.S. to transform its auto fleet to more fuel efficient cars is to put a floor under oil and gas prices.

The Wall Street Journal (pushing gas taxes?) columnist Paul Ingrassia today writes: “The reason Europe has fuel-efficient cars is high gas prices, not CAFE laws. What’s more, the only times that Americans have switched to smaller cars is 1973, 1979 and the spring of 2008, when gas prices here were high. So the time has come for Congress to stop pretending that fuel-economy can be legislated and to put market forces to work. That means raising gasoline taxes — offset by cuts in income taxes and by gas vouchers for needy people. These measures would succeed at raising fuel economy and in reducing automotive emissions where the CAFE law has failed.”

A fabulous point, which we have made many times before. But if members of Congress opposing loans to the auto industry because polls of their constituents are against it (as if they truly understood the connection between the auto industry and the broad economy), how can we ever expect them to support a gas tax.

My observation of Congress is that they vote to reflect the polling in their districts and states. The days of a Senator or Cingressperson going back to their constituents and explaining why they support an unpopular measure for the benefit of the country haven’t been seen in decades.

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