Why the Gas Tax Is Essential

It protects our highways, creates jobs, and aids the planet
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2011 12:32 PM CDT
New York Times Editors: Why the Gas Tax Is Essential
We can't let the gas tax expire, write the New York Times editors.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

The federal gas tax—18.4 cents per gallon—is due to expire Sept. 30. For the sake of our infrastructure, our economy, and our environment, we can’t let that happen, write the editors of the New York Times. Its expiration “would bankrupt the already stressed Highway Trust Fund, with devastating effects on the country’s highways, bridges, mass transit systems, and the economy as a whole.” Yet word is that some House Republicans are looking end the tax, which hasn’t risen since 1993—or are considering using it “as leverage in the budget wars.”

Actually, the tax should rise, the editors write, and here's why: The amount of upkeep needed is only growing ("the backlog of bridges needing repair is estimated at $72 billion"), it pushes Americans to look to more fuel-efficient cars, and "using gas-tax receipts on public investment puts that money right back into the economy." And even if you factor in state gas taxes, we pay just half of what Europeans shell out in gas taxes, and only a tenth of what Brits pay. Moderates on both sides of the aisle have called for an increase. It’s time for President Obama tell America why it’s essential. (More gas tax stories.)

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