Monday, July 11, 2016

This is Why We're Supposed to Fight for Gas Tax Hikes?

EmptySteve LeBlanc writes for the Associated Press today about how Massachusetts uses just a tiny fraction of cigarette taxes for anti-smoking programs. By contrast, he says most of a recent gas tax hike goes for its intended purpose:
Drivers paid an extra $257 million to fill up their tanks as a result of the 3-cent-per-gallon increase ... virtually all of the gas tax money went to highway construction and maintenance
As we've discussed before, voters don't want to pay for highway construction, but Democrats are constantly told by Very Serious People that they must campaign for gas tax hikes because it's The Right Thing to Do.

Sure, it's nice to put a more accurate price on gasoline, which gets so many free rides, from polluting our air to getting military protection in the Middle East.

But if the money is just going to pay for more highways, incentivizing more gasoline consumption, it's unclear if raising the gas tax is even a clear net good, never mind worth progressives spending precious political capital on what's a relatively unpopular cause.

I'd rather fight for a millionaire's tax and a carbon tax, wouldn't you?

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