In this NYT piece Daniel Gross makes the often-made point that our gas taxes are really low when compared to other industrialized nations.
- The International Energy Agency provides this breakdown of Average Gas Taxes Per Gallon (as of Aug 2006):
U.S. $0.40 (includes state and federal taxes)
Gross makes another often-made point: the last time we increased the federal gas tax was waaaay back in 1993.
And then comes a rather new point: many Republican economists (or economists associated with the Rs) are coming out in favor of hiking the gas tax. Alan Greenspan, Greg Mankiw, Andrew Samwick, and others say it's a good idea and many leftish economists have been saying this for a long time. Makes it seem like there's a new consensus emerging.
But the piece leaves out some pretty significant points.
Many people want to hike gas taxes to reduce driving andâ€“while it's true that Europeans drive less than we doâ€“the gap is closing. In fact, even with ultra-high gas taxes, driving is increasing in Europe. It's been increasing faster there than in the states.
And Sam's last post suggests that higher gas taxes might make pricing a tougher sell politically. Seems like the higher gas taxes get the more likely motorists are to complain about "double taxation." Expect more of this: "We already pay so much at the pump, and now you want us to pay a toll!"