David Kiley, writing at Autoblog.com, surveyed the politics around federal gas tax increases, in light of the federal deficit commission's call for a 15 cent hike.
He correctly notes that Republicans like to pin gas taxes on liberal Democrats even though gas tax increases have enjoyed bipartisan support, and that neither political party has had the guts to actually reduce government spending. But then he veers into the ditch:
The point, though, is that a gas tax is – *gulp• – a good tax. If, as the commission suggests, the gas tax hike is targeted for infrastructure improvement, that's a lot of improved roads and bridges, and a lot of jobs. As someone who recently had a flat tire and bent wheel from a Rt. 80 pothole, and a $500.00 bill to go with it, I think this is a good idea.
While I'm not keen to embrace Europe's $7.00-per gallon-plus system, it's hard to argue against the facts that European roads put their U.S. counterparts to shame. And the European Union is not overburdened with gas guzzler SUVs driven by sole drivers they way we are in the U.S. On the contrary, in Europe, a Ford Focus is a family car. That idea may not play well in rural Georgia, but I'm confronted by the reality that I don't see European families out demonstrating against having to buy Focuses and Toyota Corollas for families of four.
Since both the US and Eurozone are headed for financial ruin in short order, Kiley (who writes for BusinessWeek) may want to consider that neither "system" really works. Privatized roads are the only economically rational, long-term solution.