Thomas Friedman is right about the need for the Obama administration to consider increasing the tax on motor fuels along with an economy-wide carbon tax (1/2, Opinion, “Obama must take gas-tax plunge”). World oil prices are at a four- or five- year low and will increase rapidly as soon as the economy begins to turn around.
It would be far better if instead of increasing the motor fuels tax at the pump, we levied an import tax of $30 to $40 on each barrel of imported oil with half that rate on oil imported from Canada.
Such a tax would have several salutary effects and would not be a zero-sum game. In other words, it would not add that amount to the cost of oil at the pump.
As the world’s largest consumer it would help keep down the world price of oil, increase the development of our own energy resources, encourage energy conservation and help reduce our massive federal debt that could reach $2 trillion this year.
G. Ross Stephens
Professor emeritus,political science and public administration, UMKC
I strongly oppose raising the federal tax on gasoline at this time. It would hit hardest those who live in rural areas and drive miles to their jobs at nursing homes, fast-food stores, discount stores and other places. It would also hurt rural school districts that run long bus routes and all of us who buy food, clothing and other things.
Besides, no one knows when the price of gas might increase again — even those wealthy advocates of an increase who live on the East Coast where they have access to good public transportation and can afford the higher price of gasoline.
Jeanette B. Welch
What short memories we have. Last summer when gas hit $4 per gallon, people started using mass transit, buying fuel-efficient cars and driving less. With the price of gas now below $2 per gallon, we seem to be returning to our gas-guzzling habits.
I agree with Tom Friedman that we need a much higher gas tax. If a higher tax would help stabilize the price at around $3 per gallon, we would do more to conserve, and there would be incentives for companies to innovate.
If we do nothing, I predict the return of $4 gas within a year. We will still be paying a much higher gas “tax.” But instead of the U.S. treasury, the recipients will be Ahmadinejad, Chavez, Putin and the Arab oil sheiks.