McCain and Clinton use gas tax politics

Proposed suspensions to federal and local gasoline taxes is political pandering.

Nationally, Sens. John McCain and Hillary Clinton – both candidates for president – want to suspend the 18.4 cents a gallon federal tax on gasoline for this summer. And locally, state Republicans are trying to represent the recent increase to the state gasoline tax, an eventual 8.5 cents a gallon, as a cause of fuel prices rising overall.

But regardless of taxes on fuel, gasoline will be more than $4 a gallon this summer. Gasoline prices always increase during the summer season of heavy driving as rising demand pushes refiners to produce at full capacity. A cut in gasoline taxes this summer, in all probability, would then create more demand for oil, which would put an increased stress on production which would cause gasoline prices to rise in order to meet the cost of increased production – only oil companies would benefit. To call for suspending taxes on gasoline is a new way for politicians to pander to vulnerable American voters at a time when many are financially struggling.

Oil prices, moreover, are likely to increase for good as demand for energy continues to grow at a fast pace in China, India and other developing countries. Gasoline, then, is already too under-taxed – even with the recent statewide tax increase. As oil prices continue to rise, gasoline consumption has remained relatively the same. While much of the taxes on gasoline go toward maintaining the under-funded public infrastructure, taxes should also be curbing the public consumption of oil.

Americans only understand the bottom-line – reasons of climate change and energy independence are not enough to limit fuel consumption. When oil becomes too expensive, only then will Americans turn to alternative fuels. But when America is willing to reduce carbon emissions and become energy independent from adversaries abroad, there will be no alternatives as alternative energies in America are grossly under-funded and not encouraged.

Instead of American politicians telling us what we want to hear, they should instead tell us what we need to hear.