Akerson Is Right On Gas Tax HikeBy Jeremy Anwyl June 7, 2011
General Motors Chairman and CEO Dan Ackerson (below) is quoted in The Detroit News today arguing for up to a $1 per gallon federal gas tax. Regular readers of this column will no doubt remember that I have supported such an increase. In fact, I think the increase will need to be higher than the $1 per-gallon proposed by Akerson to change consumer behavior to purchasing smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.
If there is one issue sure to stir people up, it is the idea of increasing the gas tax. Just look at the comments at the end of my previous column. Some of this is just anti tax -- a point I certainly get. Some of it is really a fundamental disagreement about fossil fuels. Is pollution a problem? Are global supplies limited?
These are serious issues, but our policy decisions seem established. Isnt there consensus that pollution should be reduced? I guess the idea of peak oil is a bit more debatable, but presumably we can all agree the supply is finite, then keeping a lid on consumption would seem to be a good thing.
Since I wrote my last column in support of a gas tax, the national discussion has moved in the direction of support for cutting spending -- though not yet as to how much to cut. This gets interesting as it gives a context for a gas tax increase. Would there be support for the idea if it meant shoring up Medicare? Or Social Security? We are a country slowly coming to grips with some very unpleasant choices. Perhaps the best way to think about increasing the federal tax on gas is as one of the best on a list of bad -- or certainly unpopular choices.