Monday, May 5, 2008

Gas Tax

The news agencies have been going nuts this year with all the different gimmicks that the politicians have been promising us. From President Bush's economic stimulus checks to the latest from the candidates, a gas tax holiday.

Sen. Obama, D-Ill., is running advertisements in both states that slam Clinton's proposal to suspend the 18.4-cent-a-gallon tax, calling it a gimmick and promoting his own energy plan and a proposal for a $1,000 middle-class tax cut.

"This gas tax, which was first proposed by John McCain and then quickly adopted by Sen. Clinton, is a classic Washington gimmick," Obama said in an interview on NBC-TV's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

Many economists have thrown cold water on the idea to suspend the gasoline tax, saying it won't do much to help drivers. Clinton, however, has defended the idea and continues to call for a gasoline tax holiday.
Now, look carefully at the above. The gas tax that Clinton and McCain are trying to give us a holiday from is 18.4 cents per gallon. How much will that actually save you in a fill-up, hmm? Let's do some math.

I just filled up my car (yes, I still drive, I'm car-lite. I drive once a week) on Friday. Gas was $3.659 per gallon. I filled up with $20, which, with my Safeway good shopper discount, got me about 5 1/2 gallons. Here's the math. 5.5 gallons of gas times 18.4 cents per gallon is (drum roll, please!) $1.012. I'd have enough for a Coke at the vending machines at the hospital, where it's still $1 for a bottle! Yippee!

Now, what about those folks with the big f'ing Hummers? Well now... your typical H2 has a 32 gallon gas tank. Let's say you have to fill up the entire tank. 32 gallons times 18.4 cents per gallon is...$5.888. Now that's some savings, ladies and gentlemen! Let's see how much it actually cost, shall we? 32 times $3.475 (3.659 minus 0.184) gets us to... $111.20. Compare that to $117.08, and you'll see just how much you're going to save with this new plan.

Now lets take a look at what the Federal gas tax funds.

Gas taxes are strictly dedicated to the Federal Highway Trust Fund, created by the Highway Revenue Act of 1956 (Pub. L. 84-267). Basically, it funds our highways and interstates. It helps with the maintenance, and also with development of new inter-modal transportation systems.

So, we're going to save Mr. H2 his $5 while we're going to let all the infrastructure of our highway system fall to crap. And I'd like to know which politician has the balls to tell the American people at the end of the summer that the holiday is over, and it's time to come back to reality. People have a habit of getting used to things like this.

Taking this holiday will end up being more expensive than we think, and no one wants the bill from that little line of credit at the end of the summer.