02/13/2018

Republicans Consider The Unthinkable: A Gas Tax Increase To Pay For Infrastructure

Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner

Republicans are weighing whether to raise the federal gas tax. It's an idea they are prone to hate, but they may need it to pay for President Trump’s infrastructure investment plan.

Supporters of the idea note that the tax hasn’t been raised since 1993 and have plenty of evidence that resistance to a hike is wearing down.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently called for the Trump administration and Congress to raise the gas tax by 25 cents per gallon to help pay for an infrastructure package, projecting it would generate more than $375 billion over a decade. For 25 years, the federal tax on gasoline has held steady at 18.4 cents per gallon and 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel. It is not indexed to inflation.

The Republican chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania, prodded colleagues at the recent GOP retreat to consider setting aside years of opposition and raise the tax.

And perhaps most revealing, some of the most conservative House members who heard Shuster’s pitch are open to it.

That includes Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., an independent-minded conservative who drives an electric-powered Tesla, detests government waste, and is always liable to surprise.

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In Search Of History

4,000 Years Of Price Control

Tablets, said to be 200 years older than the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi ... show that the ancient kingdom of Eshnunna had wage control and price control. The news ought not to have come as a surprise. For the code of Hammurabi itself (unearthed in 1902), which was promulgated earlier than 2000 B.C., fixed prices, wages, interest rates, and fees. This makes price control at least about 4,000 years old. ...

 

Ironically, it is those who now wish to return to this ancient totalitarian device who are fondest of calling themselves “progressives.” They are also fond of saying that those who believe in economic liberty “are living in the nineteenth century.” These controlists have yet to learn that they themselves are still living, as the discoveries in Babylonia attest, in the nineteenth century—B.C.!

-- Henry Hazlitt,

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