Friday, July 17, 2009

Raise Gasoline Taxes, Says U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will try to get lawmakers in Washington D.C. to raise the federal gasoline tax from 18.4 cents per gallon to about 28.4 cents per gallon.

The Chamber says the revenue from the gasoline tax increase would help pay for repairs to our nation's infrastructure. Pending legislation in the House of Representatives calls for spending $500 billion on transportation projects over the next 6 years. Congress isn't sure where to get the money from.

Why is the Chamber pushing a gasoline tax increase in the middle of a recession? Because repairing roads, bridges and rail systems brings jobs and increases mobility. According to the Alliance for American Manufacturing, 18,000 jobs are created for every $1 billion in new infrastructure spending.

While a federal gasoline tax increase will create infrastructure jobs, it will also have other effects on our finances and the environment.

Operating costs for businesses and households will rise. Those of us who miss the fuel surcharges that airlines and package delivery companies imposed in 2008 will welcome their return.

But higher gasoline prices in 2008 had a net beneficial effect on the environment. We bought more fuel-efficient cars. We drove fewer miles and took public transportation more often, resulting in a lower greenhouse gas emissions. The number of vehicle crashes declined. We learned the pleasures of living in downtown areas close to our workplaces. And our collective actions brought down the price of oil.

So if the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's push succeeds, it may bring benefits on several fronts.

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