“Biden objects to raising gas tax to pay for infrastructure,” a June 18 AP headline read. The White House, the article explains, flatly rejected any increase, even just an inflation adjustment to the existing levy. If there was any doubt, consider the verdict of the Democrat chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Ron Wyden (D-Oregon): “It’s another hit on working people.” And Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio): a gas tax is a “Republican thing.”
When it comes to retail gasoline and diesel, Democrats turn into Republicans, and Republicans stay Republican. The 18.4 cent/gallon levy for gasoline (and 24.4 cents/gallon for diesel) has not been raised since 1993, an almost 50 percent decline in real terms. But with state and local taxes, total levies on a gallon of gasoline average 55 cents, with California being the highest (81 cents) and Alaska the lowest (32 cents).
Gasoline and diesel are the most advertised and consumer-sensitive prices in the nation, and politicians do not want any part in inflating them. Consider these moments in history.
In his presidential run in 2000, Earth in the Balance Al Gore stated:
I have made it clear in this campaign that I am not calling for any tax increase on gasoline, on oil, on natural gas, or anything else. I am calling for tax cuts to stimulate the production of new sources of domestic energy and new technologies to improve efficiency.
The irony was noted by Marjorie Williams at the Washington Post:
Vice President Al Gore, who labored under eternal suspicion in the crucial state of Michigan for his writings on the environment, responded to last year’s gas price hikes in the Midwest with consumer-pitying rhetoric that touched on everything but the suggestion that Americans might drive less or consider smaller, more efficient cars.
And feeling the heat over rising gasoline prices in March 2012, President Obama stated:
[We] are drilling all over the place — right now. That’s not the challenge . . . we don’t have enough pipeline capacity to transport all of it to where it needs to go — both to refineries, and then, eventually, all across the country and around the world…. [My] strategy … will … help to curb the spike in gas[oline] prices that we’re seeing year after year after year.
On the campaign trail back in 2008, Obama learned his lesson when he warned that “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket” from cap-and-trade on carbon dioxide (CO2).
The cost of decarbonization, in short, must be hidden from the public.
The climate alarmists/forced energy transformationists are nonplussed at politicians who will not increase taxes (and thus prices) on petroleum, the mainstay for car, truck, train, boat, and airplane travel. “The truth is that there is no way to avoid the pain of high energy prices,” stated climate activist Andrew Dessler in Grist in 2008. “Deal with it.” He admitted elsewhere:
Economists love transparency. Rational actors want to know exactly how much everything is costing them so they can make optimal decisions about allocating resources. In politics, though, transparency is a negative. If you open your electricity bill and it says “Carbon tax: $20”, it’s hard to argue that it’s not costing you $20.
Thank goodness for transparency to keep politicians honest. And give thanks that the climate campaigners are at bay in the important area of petroleum affordability. The decarbonization crusade is indeed undemocratic.