In this time of political partisanship, the two parties at last have found something they can agree on: raising the gas tax. It's a truly awful idea, and might get Republicans kicked out of office.
It's shocking that Republicans, who won the last election by promising limited government and lower taxes, would in their first week back in power make noises about joining tax-and-spend liberal Democrats to raise the 18-cents-a-gallon gas tax. But that's exactly what they're doing.
Suddenly, a number of Republicans — who should all know better — are saying they'll "consider" a gasoline tax hike, especially if paired with something they want badly. A hike in the gas tax, they say, could "finance" other things — like a big-spending transportation bill, or even corporate tax cuts.
A headline in The Hill captures it perfectly: "Momentum builds in Congress for raising the federal gas tax."
Well, if the GOP is serious about being a party of limited government and low taxes, it shouldn't raise gasoline taxes; it should cut spending. And don't tell voters you can't cut.
If they refuse, they shouldn't expect to be re-elected in 2016. The GOP's 2016 "wave" will crash. We're pretty sure of this since our own IBD/TIPP Poll, just finished on Thursday, asked 867 adults if they support or oppose a gas-tax hike. Fully 59% oppose it, while just 34% support it. Among Republicans, 70% are opposed and just 24% in support. Are you listening, GOP?
In case House Speaker John Boehner and others are wondering why those uppity Tea Party types keep challenging them, they need look no further. Right now, the Tea Party is the only one keeping the GOP honest.
As for the arguments in favor of a gas-tax hike, virtually all are spurious — based on bad economic thinking or, worse, rhetorical dishonesty, such as the mantra the gas tax is not really a "tax" at all, but a "use fee." Please.
After years of suffering $3-plus-a-gallon gasoline, Americans have finally gotten a reprieve — one that will put about $200 billion in their pockets this year, at current prices. Now the federal government wants to grab that windfall for itself.
Sorry, but the federal government routinely steals about 25% of our gas-tax funds for non-transportation uses. It's not a trust fund, it's a piggy bank. And adding to it is something the GOP will be wise to avoid.