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On Gas Tax Increase, Obama Is Wrong — And (Some) Republicans Are Right

Editor's Blog Memo Pad Politics

On Gas Tax Increase, Obama Is Wrong — And (Some) Republicans Are Right


It doesn’t happen often, but Washington is now debating an important issue on which the United States Chamber of Commerce, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Fox News pundit Charles Krauthammer, and a growing posse of assorted right-wingers are right – and President Barack Obama is wrong.

Those voices on the right, along with many on the left, are urging consideration of an increase in the federal gasoline tax, sorely needed both to maintain America’s transportation infrastructure and to reduce greenhouse gases. Yet for reasons best known to him alone, the president is resisting that excellent idea.

As every sentient American adult knows, the price of gasoline at the pump has fallen precipitously in recent months. Filling a 20-gallon tank today costs about $30 less than buying the same volume of gas cost last summer. To raise the federal gas tax by 15 cents per gallon would only recoup 10 percent of that consumer bonanza – and would bring tax revenues roughly in line with inflation since the last time an increase passed in 1993.

Since then, of course, America’s roads, bridges, tunnels, and transit systems have continued to decay, without sufficient funding or will to keep them in decent condition. Congressional revulsion at raising taxes, thanks to the mania enforced by Grover Norquist at the misnamed Americans for Tax Reform, has left the Highway Trust Fund on the brink of bankruptcy since last year. A modest gas tax increase would begin to solve the problem, at least for the transportation sector. (The rest of the nation’s infrastructure – everything from airports and dams to state universities, public buildings, and water mains – is falling apart, too, but that will require bigger solutions.)

Were we inclined, as a nation, to consider what we owe both our ancestors and our descendants, Washington would have embarked on a program of national reconstruction years ago, to take advantage of negligible interest rates, an idled labor force, and under-utilized capital. No comparable opportunity to rebuild cheaply and efficiently, while creating the kinds of jobs that support families, has existed since the Great Depression. And much of what we now take (and use) for granted was built in those years, and in the early postwar decades, when public works were widely seen as a public good.

But the ideologues who now dominate our politics under the rubric of “conservative” are not in the business of conserving anything – not our natural resources, not our environment, and certainly not our infrastructure. Their frothing opposition to government and taxation has actively encouraged decay. Today, the radicals represented by the Tea Party and Americans for Prosperity (another misnomer) will seek to block even a very modest gas tax increase, as they are doing on the state level in Iowa – without any plausible proposal for infrastructure repair that everyone knows is essential.

Ask for their alternative solution to financing infrastructure, and the geniuses at the Heritage Foundation, for instance, demand an end to transit spending and a cut in construction wages. Others on the right simply mumble about “reducing waste.” What they don’t propose is a plausible, equitable, sustainable way to rebuild.

These people shouldn’t call themselves the Tea Party. With their strange urge to ruin the transportation systems that made this the strongest country in the world, they’re more like a Termite Party. Termite is also the proper term for Republicans in the House of Representatives, where Speaker John Boehner brags that he has never, ever voted to increase the gas tax. (After all, it doesn’t fund golf courses or tanning beds.)

The limits to such madness may be on the horizon, however. When a right-wing stalwart like Inhofe – a noted climate denier and stooge of the oil industry – acknowledges that a gas tax increase may be inevitable, then sanity could break out, even on Capitol Hill.

For President Obama to situate himself among irrational opponents of an increase is perplexing. Perhaps if enough Republicans and corporate leaders insist on a gas tax hike, he will abandon that position and join their ranks. And then at last, the “bipartisan” approach he still cherishes, against so much evidence, might produce something of value to this country.

Joe Conason

A highly experienced journalist, author and editor, Joe Conason is the editor-in-chief of The National Memo, founded in July 2011. He was formerly the executive editor of the New York Observer, where he wrote a popular political column for many years. His columns are distributed by Creators Syndicate and his reporting and writing have appeared in many publications around the world, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Nation, and Harpers.

Since November 2006, he has served as editor of The Investigative Fund, a nonprofit journalism center, where he has assigned and edited dozens of award-winning articles and broadcasts. He is also the author of two New York Times bestselling books, The Hunting of the President (St. Martins Press, 2000) and Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth (St. Martins Press, 2003).

Currently he is working on a new book about former President Bill Clinton's life and work since leaving the White House in 2001. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, including MSNBC's Morning Joe, and lives in New York City with his wife and two children.

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  1. Dominick Vila February 5, 2015

    A temporary gasoline tax increase, while prices at the pump are at the $2 a gallon range, is probably a good idea. If nothing else because it would provide funding to help repair or modernize our infrastructure – without the GOP raising the nefarious tax rates – and because it may encourage some drivers to drive less. The part that troubles me is that once a tax is put in place, it literally takes an act of Congress to get rid of it.
    $2 a gallon gas is not going to last forever. The moment China finishes restructuring their economy, and Western Europe overcome their economic recession, oil consumption will rise again, and as demand goes up, and production remains steady, oil prices will rise again. Will this tax disappear then? I doubt it.
    I don’t see this decision as sound economic or fiscal policy, but as a cop out to avoid raising the tax rates the wealthy pay to help raise funds to pay for what we need.

    1. TheSkalawag929 February 5, 2015

      My first thought was, “Where will the people, who are clamoring for this increase,be if gas goes up to near $5 a gallon again?” Will they be as enthusiastic then?
      The price of gas is too volatile to raise taxes on it without giving future prices due consideration.

    2. Independent1 February 5, 2015

      Dominick, my only concern is, and it may be why Obama is having a problem with raising the gas tax, is that even if it’s raised, there’s no guarantee that Congress wouldn’t just pass some legislation that allowed it to use the added tax revenues for other purposes. Not that I’m against pay taxes for something beneficial like improving America’s infrastructure, but with the wingnuts that are part of this current Congress – I have absolutely no trust that they would use more money sent into the highway coffers for actual highway and other infrastructure purposes. The Tea Party and most other Republicans seem to be absolutely determined to allow America’s infrastructure to decay to the point of turning us into a quasi 3rd world nation with respect to our infrastructure; when you consider how much more advanced many European and other nations like China have become by so vastly improving their highways and high-speed rail over the past decade plus.

      Several countries, and especially China, now have trains that travel so fast, 300 mph, that allows their people to get to destinations even a 1,000 miles away faster by train than by plane, when you factor in everything related to: getting to the airport in a traffic jam; getting to the airport an hour plus a head of your flight; sometimes waiting on the tarmac for clearance or just for a delayed flight to take off; waiting for your luggage at the destination airport; and then getting transportation into the destination city which can often by 30 plus minutes away. At 300 mph, someone hopping on a train at Penn Station in NYC, could be in downtown Chicago within about 2 1/2 hours. When’s the last time you think anyone got from somewhere in NYC to one of the area airports, got on a plane and ended up in downtown Chicago within even a couple hours more than that??

      And in addition to that, I’m not really certain there’s going to be any real increase in oil demand in the near future. With the vast majority of industrialized nations aside from America foundering in recessions because they’ve reached the precipice of their shrinking populations (Greece is a classic example of just that), and that includes China, I’m hard pressed to see how countries that are now in population declines or population stagnation, are going to rev up their economies and their demand for oil. China is recognizing that it’s high usages of oil and coal have created enormous pollution across their nation, so their starting to work toward reducing their demands for fossil fuels.

      And that’s true especially with many of the European countries which have already converted as much as 50% of their energy demands over to alternative energies like solar, wind, tidal and other renewable energy sources Which is just one more thing that Republicans in their determination to feed money to Big Oil are letting America fall severely behind with – migrating from a fossil-fuel based energy dependent nation to various renewable energies: wind, solar, hydro, tidal, plasma, and more. In cities and states across the nation, GOP run governments are passing legislation that creates roadblocks for citizens who are trying to move their homes away from using oil, gas or coal.

      And just to get back to China for a moment, I’m not confident that even China will get back to increasing its demand for oil. I think its economic growth has hit the ceiling because of its stagnant, even somewhat declining population, which is why its economic focus has been for so long on creating products for other countries rather than on internal consumption. Although the Chinese people have been better able to afford buying the products made by their own factories, with a stagnant population, product saturation can occur fairly quickly when you don’t have a significant constant flow of new consumers. And companies in America are starting to realize that with the Chinese people pushing for higher wages, that in many instances, it’s cheaper to produce products for consumption in America, in America. Especially when you factor in the quality of the products being produced in other nations, having to rework or reproduce shoddily created parts, and then also pay for shipping and the delays involved in getting parts needed to maintain production.

      And personally, I think the world is in the long haul of overall economic stagnation and the only way I see Big Oil driving up prices again is to cut production; which isn’t going to do a lot for returning many of these fossil fuel rich nations to the income streams they were seeing before the world saw the current oil glut, as they’ll be exporting fewer barrels of oil at the higher prices, maybe only slightly increasing the money that oil brings in (and that goes for these mostly GOP run states that have been padding their state coffers with the tax money they collect on oil revenues).

      1. Dominick Vila February 5, 2015

        In addition to a superior rail system, China, Japan, most Western European countries, and most industrialized nations also have a cost-effective and efficient public transportation system, that includes transportation from ports and airports to urban areas.
        There is no doubt in my mind that the price of oil will go back up in the not too distant future. The thirst for oil in China will resume in the not too distant future, and the same is going to happen as soon as the Western European countries that are still struggling to overcome the effects of the Great Recession – which had a global impact – get back on the feet and start important large amount of oil once again.
        What the proponents of the gas tax have not considered is that once a tax is put in, it often takes years – if ever – for that tax to be removed or even reduced. I would hate to see a substantial excise tax on top of a $4 a gallon price.
        What is wrong with appropriations earmarked for infrastructure, and ensuring government revenues cover that expenditure?The proposed gas tax disproportionately put the burden of repairing and modernizing our infrastructure on those who can least afford to pay for it, while the wealthiest Americans continue to get tax breaks.

        1. Independent1 February 5, 2015

          Yes, it’s just such a shame that Republicans have worked so hard over the past 50 years to hold America back from keeping up with the rest of the world with respect to improving the way our nation moves people. The myopic focus of everyone owning 2 and even 3 cars, so as to feed the greed of Big Oil has really not helped matters in our country – not only turning the majority of Americans into car-dependents, it’s also in ways harmed the health of millions by giving them such an easy means of getting from one place to another that instead of walking or riding a bike to that store 1/2 a mile down the road, they hope in the car and forego the exercise. I think that’s one reason why people in other countries are somewhat healthier than Americans, because they’re not so dependent on having a car.

          And I hope you’re right about countries around the globe getting their economies reved up again; that may come to pass but I’m still skeptical about the world returning to increasing their demand for oil to a degree anywhere near as much as it was before the oil glut took place. I really do think many industrialized countries, and even to some degree America, are moving to far greater independence from oil and coal to fuel their energy needs.

          1. Dominick Vila February 5, 2015

            Yes, greater reliance on alternative energy sources, in Western Europe, Japan, and other countries is going to reduce dependence on fossil fuels as a main energy source, but it may be a few more decades before that has a major impact on oil consumption. By the way, the design, development, and use of alternative energies is another area where we are falling behind. Thankfully, public interest, and effective government policies, are influencing change in the development of alternative energy sources in the USA, and driving prices down to the point that they are an affordable alternative for many.

        2. Independent1 February 5, 2015

          I was just trying to think about why GOP legislators would consistently, over the past 100 years) be against virtually doing anything related to helping Americans live better lives by even just getting to and from work quicker – like they were against the interstate highway system when Eisenhower, who wasn’t a Republican, was pushing for it. And why he had to convince the GOPers at the time that he wasn’t pushing for it to just make Americans’ lives a little better, but because he saw it as a national defense issue should the America ever be attacked. He had to relate to these GOP naysayers just how impressed he was when he was working to defeat the German army with how easily they could move their troops around on their Autobahns; and how they should realize how important that would be if America was ever directly involved in a war. (If Republicans are for anything, it’s being prepared for or starting a war.)

          After giving it a lot of thought, the only thing I can come up with is that even back then, Republicans were in the pockets of Big Oil. And Big Oil may well have been against America building an interstate highway system that would not only make Americans’ lives easier, it would also reduce their use of oil because cars get better gas mileage in open highways than on secondary roads.

          And my guess is that its Big Oil that is feeding money to Republicans in our governments across the nation today, pushing them to put up roadblocks to about any idea or movement that may in any way result in cutting down America’s demand for oil. Be that building a high-speed rail network, fixing our roads and bridges so their are less delays due to constant road construction, be it building better ways to get from one place to another – anything that may end up cutting our demand for oil. It’s all about MONEY/GREED.

          1. Dominick Vila February 5, 2015

            President Obama may have gotten more GOP support for the Affordable Care Act, if he had presented it as a way to reduce welfare, force the 47% to pay a portion of for profit insurance company premiums, and help reduce corporate operating costs. Instead, he acknowledged that the ACA would help millions of middle class and poor Americans get the healthcare they need to stay healthy, and he has been paying a heavy price for his audacity ever since.

          2. Allan Richardson February 5, 2015

            As if staying healthy were not as important as reducing spending? My sense of morality says that if it saves lives and helps people live healthier lives, it would be worth it EVEN IF IT COST MORE. But, fortunately, it is saving money at the same time. We would save even more in the long run with a single payer insurance plan (with private health providers) like Medicare, but that’s the next step.

          3. Dominick Vila February 5, 2015

            When it comes to cost, the only legitimate argument they can still make is that it is more expensive for the beneficiaries compared to ER freebies. Never mind that the latter is a much more expensive to tax payers, and has been a contributor to out of control increases in healthcare costs in the USA during the past several decades.

          4. Independent1 February 5, 2015

            That’s a good point!!. When Obama sought to focus on ACA as a way to cut government’s costs related to our antiquated healthcare system to help dig us out of the Great Recession, he didn’t couch it as a way to cut down on welfare (the government paying or all those freebie ER visits) and actually saving taxpayers and corporations some money by having a lot of folks who were using the ER for free, pay at least something toward ACA’s premiums; and also actually helping keep hospitals afloat by increasing their profits by drastically cutting the number of people who they had to give healthcare to who couldn’t pay for the care they had gotten.

  2. ericlipps February 5, 2015

    Of course, those “voices on the right” who advocate an increase in the gasoline tax—or, indeed, any tax—are considered heretics and apostates by
    other right-wingers. As for President Obama, he knows that proposing or
    supporting such a thing will only inflame the “tea party” types who already see him as a “tax and spend” Democrat, so he plays it safe by joining the
    opposition. Unfortunately, “playing it safe” has been the golden rule of his political career, only rarely violated.

    He shouldn’t bother. The “tea partiers” will always consider him an evil emperor, for reasons as plain as the skin on his face. He was elected, and re-elected, to lead the country, not to be led by the nose by chromosomally-challenged crackpots.

  3. Eleanore Whitaker February 5, 2015

    So, let’s see. For a few months, Americans were actually able to save a few dollars instead of pouring it into massive Big Oil projects of the Drill, Baby, Drill mania.

    The reality is that the GOP is 100% behind keeping Big Oil as BIG as God and the Black Hole of Space. That is ALL the GOP cares about.

    They fool no one with this sudden interest in a gas tax. This is yet another of the sly dog GOP “inversions” where they amass secondary public money to pay for the infrastructure that should have already been earmarked for badly needed repairs to roads, bridges and tunnels.

    This is how the GOP operates. You pay once. That goes to the GOP cronies who flush part of your incomes into GOP campaign contributions. Then, when the funding is dried up, the GOP just looks for another way to make us pay a second time for something we’ve paid for more than 3 decades.

    This is the new era of GOP inversions. Set up a fund for infrastructure. Use it to hand to corporations or for tax cuts for the rich and then jack the price of necessities and tax again. How is this not double taxation without representation?

    The GOP BS artists know damn well that they have the funds for infrastructure. But, like all corporate CEOs, they find a way around using those funds so they can spend it elsewhere. Hey! GOP…that’s NOT your money. It’s OURS.

  4. Eleanore Whitaker February 5, 2015

    There already IS funding. It’s been used for everything BUT infrastructure. NJ’s Transportation Fund was supposed to provide the funding to repair infrastructure. Where is that money? Who spent it and why? These are not difficult questions.

    We do not need a gasoline tax in NJ. Ours are the highest property taxes in the US. Our School taxes rank 4th in nation. And, under governor fat boy, NJ taxes have gone up yet again. So much for GOP leaders not increasing taxes.

    Don’t hand one more dime to a politician until he backs up and tells us where the money has been spent. Anything less is being an enabler.

    That gas tax in NJ would jack the price of gasoline right back to where it was at its highest pricing. Is that just another GOP coincidence because Big Oil is losing market share faster and faster? And, is this the only way to fleece Americans to keep Big Oil in business?

  5. darkagesbegin February 5, 2015

    obviously, President Obama knows how to get things done: If he wants a tax increase, he has to oppose it vehemently and vociferously. Anything he is against, they are for.

  6. Alvin Harrison February 5, 2015


    I was one of them. Yep…I thought with this wind fall lowering of gasoline prices it would be a prefect time to raise the gasoline tax and start to finally improve our bridges, roads etc. It makes sense. With prices so low, could there be a better time to add to the gasoline tax? We could add twenty cents to a gallon in taxes and American’s would hardly feel it….we would make a ton in taxes and fix everything. So why would the President be so against a tax increase on gasoline?

    Then, a few days ago, when I started posting blogs on the President and the Saudis in cahoots to lower the price of oil to shut down the Russian’s plans for conquest and to provide a short term boost to the American economy….it hit me. This is a short term lowering of prices he secretly negotiated and any tax increase would not end as prices began to rise….possibly to levels higher than before the fall.

    This would be a disaster for the middle class and the American economy. Prices would rise, and to add insult to injury, this new tax would add to the onerous burden on middle class wallets. This revelation gives even more credence to my belief that this secret deal between the Saudis and the President is a reality. Nothing else makes sense to the Presidents opposition. In addition my source in the oil business seemed pretty convincing in his belief this was, in reality, what had taken place….a secret alliance.

    I would bet the farm that the President would be in favor of a plan that had the tax increase tied to the price of gasoline. That way, as the price of a gallon rose, the tax would decrease. It is a certainty that the price will not stay low forever…or even for very long if I am right. This is a decrease tied to specific goals. Those goals being: A hit to the Russian economy to do what sanctions have so far failed to do …which is to stop their plans for expansion into the Ukraine (for America) and reduce the threat of their expanding oil business (for the Saudis). The second benefit would be the boost to the middle class buying power and resultant boost to the economy helping the Democrats with a story they need to tell the public to win in 2016. Once those goals have been achieved and both the Saudis and the President get what they want, prices will rise quickly. I might be able to convince my friends to take a hit for the team for a short while ….but they will not subject themselves to a battering that continues ad infinitum.

    Even if I am DEAD WRONG in my belief in this secret deal….it is unrealistic to believe these prices will last too long, and we will see prices equal or higher than before they fell. So Americans…resist any gas tax that does not come with a sliding rate linked to the price per gallon of gasoline. If this tax is passes and prices rise….you are screwed yet again.

    You can read my previous postings on the secret Obama/Saudi deal here (before you Obama haters get too excited, I am actually in favor of “the deal”):

    1. Independent1 February 5, 2015

      Sorry wingnut – the president HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH THE PRICE PER BARREL OF OIL – the price of a barrel of oil is totally controlled by SPECULATORS based on whatever set of fabrications they want to create for justifying their increasing or decreasing the price of a barrel of oil. You wingnuts really have to stop coming up with these fantastical conspiracy theories!!!

      1. Alvin Harrison February 5, 2015

        From the “wing nut”…who sets the price of oil…The guys with the oil…the Saudis…iEconomics 101…if I am the biggest and lower my prices…everyone else has to also lower prices….As the market leader I can effect prices and the fortunes of my competitors….ask Walmart….The speculators would not be getting screwed right now if they “set” the prices instead of trying guess what will happen….as a matter of fact they used to be pretty good at guessing when normal market forces were at work…how come they have not been able to figure out what way the wind is blowing and are taking a bath?
        You guys who do not understand real power and the way it is brokered really need to stop spreading the belief that the 1% do not own you lock stock and barrel (of oil).

        1. Independent1 February 5, 2015

          Saudi Arabia isn’t really setting the price of a barrel of oil. Saudi Arabia is impacting the per barrel price by the amount of oil it exports. And right now it’s continuing to produce so much oil that speculators are keeping the price down because existing oil supplies are putting downward pressure on prices.

          And the oil glut in the world is attributable to a lot of factors that are totally out of control of any American president – such as how much oil demand is coming from nations such as China, India and other oil consuming nations. If China suddenly started sucking up oil again, the price/barrel of oil would suddenly jump. Or if war talks heated up again with Iran, they may increase because speculators would perceive that there would be less oil coming out of Iran -and etc etc.

          Suggesting that the President of the U.S. or any one person can really have an effect on oil prices, is just one more thing that delusional wingnuts FABRICATE!!

          1. Alvin Harrison February 5, 2015

            Is not producing the amount of oil needed for the speculators to lower the price the same a setting the price…get real dude you are reinforcing my statement that the Saudis are setting the price…Why would any businessman produce so much oil the price comes down on purpose…unless their was another agenda in play other than the usual Profit, profit, profit. The Saudis have been in this game a LONG time…they did not engineer this over production and subsequent price reduction by mistake. Now…give me a good reason why they would manipulate the prices lower and screw themselves out of millions possibly billions in profit. Did they become kinder, gentler Saudis overnight. Smell the roses my friend. You think the Koch brothers spend millions of their profit on campaigns for “no reason”…I have refrained from calling you any names like “wing nut”…so I will only say this…you delusional (fill it in) continue to hide your heads in the sand….that way you can avoid seeing what is happening around you and in turn having to do anything about it. The corp/1% run this world…you and the rest of us are pawns. I know this is hard for your ego to accept….but get over it.

            P.S…except for the name calling, I am enjoying this discourse.

          2. Independent1 February 5, 2015

            Supply is only one factor – the other factor is demand – and demand across the planet is something NO ONE Person has control over. Obama does not have a crystal ball. He in no way could have predicted that China would suddenly cut its demand for oil the way it has, or all the other nations across the planet have cut their demand.

            And if Obama did negotiate with the Saudi’s to keep up their oil supply in order to drive prices down, it would have been to reduce the suffering of millions of Americans who have been struggling under high gas prices NOT FOR SOME NEFARIOUS REASON LIKE YOUR CONSPIRACY THEORY.

            No president, ABSOLUTELY NO PRESIDENT, has done more to help the average American than Barack Obama, and that includes FDR, Obama has worked tirelessly to do everything he possibly can to help every sector of our population live their lives a little easier and better.

          3. Alvin Harrison February 5, 2015

            Did I not say in my first post that reducing the burden of high prices on the American middle class and further stimulating our economy was ONE of the reasons this strategy would be a reason the President would benefit from its implementation?….AND if two people make a “plan”…it is now a conspiracy?. Think of conspiracy Theory as a phrase…what does it denote….nut job…the REAL meaning of conspiracy is: “a secret plan by a group to do something harmful or unlawful”…YOU labeled the plan I described in my post a conspiracy to give the “plan” a negative connotation. I did not….I said it was a plan to help Americans and thwart Russian plans at European oil dominance and bullying.

            Now as to the other “factor” you cited. This slowdown in the Chinese and Indian consumption in oil has been developing for a long time. It did not happen overnight. To think that oil producers do not have forecasts of consumption is ludicrous. How long have you been hearing that the only country that seems to finally escaped the recession is the USA. China had their economy set up wrong based on construction of new cities etc and everyone knew this was going to tumble.

            Figuring out the timing was easy.

          4. Independent1 February 5, 2015

            I obviously misunderstood your post. After rereading it and giving it a bit of thought, am I right in now seeing that: what your post was basically trying to say is you disagree with Joe with respect to Obama being wrong about not agreeing to a fixed hike in the gas tax at this time, because although prices are down for the moment (which may or may not be something Obama was able to negotiate with the Saudi’s), in not too long, prices could rise again and the added 15 cent gas tax would just add to the cost down the not too distant road that struggling Americans will have to pay for gas?? And it could be that he (Obama) somehow was in the middle of working out the drop in gas prices to not only help the American consumer but put additional pressure on Russia to get out of Ukraine??

            If that’s what your post is all about – then I would have to agree – and I apologize for having misunderstood.

          5. Alvin Harrison February 5, 2015

            Sir…First no apology is necessary…I probably was not clear enough. BUT…..That is EXACTLY what I have been saying. I whole heartedly disagree with Joe…what Joe does not know or has take into consideration in Obama’s not agreeing to fixed tax is that he KNOWS these prices are a temporary…he helped engineer them. Once the goals have been achieved, the Saudis will be free to follow the market and run their business.

            But a couple of things will have been achieved, besides the intended goals. America and it’s now staunch ally, the Saudis, will have gone long way to ensuring cooperation on many levels. The fighting of terrorism will be just one. Obama is trying to reshape America’s image as the worlds penultimate wanna be control freak to one that will work with others so BOTH achieve their goals. Americans need to realize that Islam is NOT the problem. It is those who pervert it’s message to further their agendas. If we want to get the help of moderate Muslims we need to do what we can to not have them having to defend their choice to support us with their fellow Muslims. The situation in Jordan is a perfect example. Jordan and the other moderate Muslims can now side with the U.S against IS without fear of being ostracized by fellow Muslims. A kinder, gentler America will find many more allies than our previous “cowboy” persona. Hillary Clinton, but ESPECIALLY Elizabeth Warren would continue this move to us being perceived as a protector and not the school yard bully in the eyes of our fellow inhabitants of this world we share.

          6. Independent1 February 5, 2015

            My only concern with warren running for president in 2016, is that I feel America really needs her in Congress where she can continue to put pressure on the GOP by speaking out against so many issues that need to be addressed. I think America will be losing something if we don’t take advantage of what these two women together have to offer with respect to leading America out of the muddle that the GOP got us into during Bush 2’s disastrous 8 years in office; with its absolute obstructionism of what Obama has been working so hard to accomplish. It’s actually amazing to me that given the GOP’s 24/7 obstructionism that America has moved forward as much as it has over the past 6 years. The GOP has done virtually everything imaginable to obstruct America moving forward into the 21st century.

          7. Alvin Harrison February 5, 2015

            You may be correct in your assessment that Wren is more valuable in congress. My hesitation with regards to Hillary, is she is a bit “hawkish” and I do not know if Obama has influenced her enough to keep this tendencies in check. We are on a fantastic road to changing world opinion of our leadership and I would love to see it continue.

            On the other hand Hillary, I believe, will take the same “off the chain” attitude to the GOP as Obama has after the midterms and he had nothing to lose….but she will take that attitude right from her first day in office. Obama has been a great example for the Democrats…stand up to the GOP and although they will bluster and whine…they will do nothing….because they have no idea what to do. The demographics of the USA have changed so much they have NO idea which way the wind is blowing. Their base keeps them thinking they are relevant….they are not. They won their vaunted midterm “victory” with 37% of people voting. That was our fault as a people for thinking we could let up on the pressure. That mistake will not be made again.

            Elizabeth warren is a “peoples” representative so I would love to see her battle the GOP from the position of President. She would know how she got there and the big banks and Corp/1% better hunker down and beware….she will come out after them with all guns blazing….and the people will be loading her weapons.

            I think you and I could be friends….here is my page address on Facebook…if you are interested send me a friend request….you will figure out how to get from there to my personal page…. https://www.facebook.com/RTIA1

          8. kenndeb February 5, 2015

            What BS. The Emperor has done nothing for the American people. He only does what is good for HIM.

          9. Alvin Harrison February 6, 2015

            The give your Gas station $4.00 a gallon…with insults like “the Emperor” your obvious hate for this man will never let you admit he is improving this country..in spite of all the evidence…but as I have said many more like what he is doing than don’t…and you are in a minority…in this country majority rules…so whine away…only your cronies are listening.

          10. Paul Anthony February 6, 2015

            The Saudis are attempting to bankrupt US oil producers. Thanks to fracking, the US has increased its oil production. But fracking is expensive. US companies lose money when the price is low, but Saudi Arabia produces cheap oil. They still make a profit (although less than before) while US competition fails.
            And the US President has no control over any of it.

          11. Alvin Harrison February 6, 2015

            Paul except for one fact…proved reserves of Arab oil are 46 times what we have in reserves from fracking…That is like Walmart worrying about a new mom and pop opening across the street. Their is no reason for them to bankrupt US oil producers…our reserves pose no problem for them…we will eventually run out so much sooner…estimates are 8 years…so it makes no sense to lower your prices to kill off a competitor that can only possibly last 8 years tops…even if the competitors stop fracking…they will resume as soon as prices go up….the Saudis would not lower prices to simply halt production in the short term as a way to “bankrupt”U.S. oil producers. A new crop would just spring up….that is not a solid long term plan. Our “fracking” at best can produce 30% of our consumption…for a limited time.

            Throwing their biggest threat, the Russians, into a economic tailspin is a worthwhile endeavor however. The Russians are vulnerable fromSaudi oil production and manipulation and can be influenced in areas from the Ukraine to all of western Europe….as I mentioned in my original post…It is also a way for the West to pry Russian support from Syria…here is a quote from the New …
            “Saudi officials say — and they have told the United States — that they think they have some leverage over Mr. Putin because of their ability to reduce the supply of oil and possibly drive up prices. “If oil can serve to bring peace in Syria, I don’t see how Saudi Arabia would back away from trying to reach a deal,” a Saudi diplomat said.York Times 2015 oil report…

            So if you think this low oil price is not manipulated as political weapon behind the scenes I hope this might help to open your eyes…the boost this temporary reduction in prices and boost to the middle class and our economy will FAR outweigh the harm if any it will due to the frackers. I am not sure if your refusal to believe that the President and the Saudis could engineer this for the benefit of both countries is because you hate the President or the Saudis…it has to be one of those because the evidence is there that this is a political move by BOTH countries.

          12. Paul Anthony February 6, 2015

            You quoted the Saudis as saying “Saudi officials say — and they have told the United States — that they think
            they have some leverage over Mr. Putin because of their ability to reduce the
            supply of oil and possibly drive up prices. “
            That’s the OPPOSITE of what’s happened.
            The Saudi’s can make a profit even if oil sells for $30.00 a barrel. The US can’t and neither can Russia or Venezuela or just about anyone else. It is in their best interests to keep prices low to maintain their majority interest in the supply chain.
            Doing so will hurt US companies and most other oil-producing nations. That’s motivation enough without imagining a conspiratorial relationship with our President.

          13. Alvin Harrison February 6, 2015

            You may be under the impression, since you use the word “conspiratorial relationship” that I believe this planned reduction in the price is a bad thing…I do not….it may hurt U.S companies in a very short term…they will profit less…but the boost to the middle class and our economy would be unachievable any other way…short of the Presidents tax plans…this may be even better….if it is a plan I enthusiastically support it. AND…as I said in my original post…this did not come from my imagination…my source could be lying or wrong…but he has been pretty reliable so far. You may want to read my post original again…and the replies and get back to me….I am not a conspiracy theorist….but I have a pretty good source and there is evidence to support my claims….maybe not enough for you..so be it. You are entitled to your opinion. But Obama has an uncanny way of getting around the roadblocks…I happen to think he is a VERY smart man…this would not be beyond his abilities.

          14. Paul Anthony February 6, 2015

            I, too, believe President Obama is a very smart man which is why I choose to disbelieve your theory.
            Lower gas prices have helped many of us (myself included) but has -at least temporarily – devastated the oil industry, causing a drastic reduction in good-paying jobs. When you lose jobs, it affects the economy as a whole. Businesses that relied on the oil boom suffer along with the laid-off workers.
            Most of the oil boom has occurred in Red States, contributing to their rising economies. Consequently, lower gas prices has hurt those states that generally do not support the President or his Party.
            Your theory would implicate the President in actions that are detrimental to his political opponents.
            We agree that he is a smart man, but I prefer to believe he is not that vengeful.
            I could be wrong.

          15. Independent1 February 6, 2015

            Paul, don’t forget that those lost jobs in the energy sector are actually being more than offset by creating more jobs outside the energy sector because the lower gas prices are prompting more consumer spending due to freeing up cash for millions of Americans: note that January had an unusually strong 250,000 plus new jobs created and that job creation over the past 3 months has seen the largest number of jobs created within a 3 months period since back in 1997.

            Sorry, I’m not one bit sad that many of these ‘holier than thou’ red states are now seeing some down times and may hopefully no learn to not be so arragant and actually have some empathy for America’s non-energy producing states have suffered much more than they have for the past 5-6 years.

          16. Paul Anthony February 6, 2015

            I agree with your first paragraph. Most economist predict it will be a wash. But let’s not allow sheer numbers confuse us. How many of those 250,000 new jobs pay as well as the jobs lost?

            Your second paragraph suggests your name, “Independent”, is a misnomer.

          17. Independent1 February 6, 2015

            The number of jobs that may be being lost in the energy sector because of the drop in oil prices in now way compares to the number of jobs that are being added because millions of Americans now have more money to spend and are therefore spurring the economy. “Most economists predict it will be a wash” is absolute NONSENSE!!

            North Dakota has been supposedly leading the nation in the percent of jobs increases for the past year plus – well, California created more jobs in December than North Dakota created in the past 18 months. And I’m sorry, I’ll give up a couple thousand energy workers earning 75,000 plus a year; for 100,000 new jobs outside the energy sector where people are earning 20-25,000.

            And I know two INDEPENDENTS named Sanders and King who are Senators and they have one heck of a lot worse rhetoric to say about what’s been going on in the absolute corrupt, evil red states!!! I’m old enough to remember FDR’s fireside chats, and today’s Republicans are NOTHING LIKE what Republicans used to be like. So it’s not me that’s not an Independent – it’s idiots in America that are letting themselves be misled by the American Mafia who are leading them around by the nose.

          18. NoNumberNow February 7, 2015

            Do you think you could live on $20k to $25k/year? Really? How many people do those workers earning $75k support directly or indirectly by supporting businesses, hiring house hold help and so on? I don’t know too many 25kers that hire anybody to do anything. They don’t shop much, they don’t buy new cars, they don’t buy houses or remodel. They just get by. A second income usually gets them over the top, however. Obviously, the most populous states will have create the most jobs. But California job growth rate is not in the top 10. Today’s politicians, either Republican or Democrat, are nothing like those from the 1930’s and 1940’s.

          19. Alvin Harrison February 6, 2015

            I would also say, Paul, that the President must weigh the good of the many against the that of the few. Of course some may suffer…but so many more will benefit. The President, as am I, is a firm believer that the way to sustained growth is a prosperous and healthy middle class…this was the shot in the arm that was needed towards that end….and the economic indicators a starting to prove this. I do not believe he is being vengeful… but he is being Presidential…fixing problems sometimes mean a few must suffer… we know this in our hearts….to stop the Nazis some had to die….we hated it but a President has to make those decisions sometimes…it is hard…but that is what is job entails sometimes…to make the hard choices.

          20. Paul Anthony February 6, 2015

            While you make it sound noble and Presidential, let’s not forget this president has been opposed to increased oil drilling and in favor of “alternative” energy sources. There is nothing noble about damaging your enemies.

          21. Alvin Harrison February 6, 2015

            Well I am not going to argue the point any further,,,we view things differently and that is what this country is all about.

          22. CrankyToo February 7, 2015

            Alvin, I think you and Indy are both approaching the fact of the matter. The problem is, the fact of the matter is too complex for either of you to be completely right.

            On the one hand, there’s no denying that the Saudi’s are, more than any other oil producing nation, contributing to the deflated price per barrel. I don’t know why, but I suspect it has more to do with market domination and hardball capitalism than with Russian imperialism.

            Moreover, it’s an absolute fact that speculation can play a dramatic role in influencing the price of any commodity. When big money plays, markets tend to move, sometimes whether they want to or not. Of course, circumstances occasionally conspire against the speculator and he takes it in the shorts. That’s why they call it speculation.

            All that said? A deal between President Obama and the Saudis would seem to work to their mutual advantage, and would certainly explain some things. It makes perfect fucking sense.

            At bottom is the question, who knows what the real players are up to behind the scenes? Certainly not we three. But you guys have got some pretty good ideas on the subject and I was informed by them. Cheers.

      2. paulyz February 5, 2015

        Not what you Leftie Loonies said when Bush was President, was it? All you said was that Bush/Cheny were the cause of high gas prices. Always twisting facts as usual.

        1. johninPCFL February 5, 2015

          Starting a war with a major oil production state who had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH 9/11 caused prices to rise. Who was the president who attacked the WRONG COUNTRY?

          1. paulyz February 5, 2015

            What does that have to do with my answer about (Presidents not causing high gas prices?) By the way if you are planning on voting for Hillary, she supported that engagement. So I suppose she is also part of your paranoid conspiracy.

  7. jakenhyde February 5, 2015

    Couple of problems with raising the tax. First, there is not, and never has been, a temporary tax hike. Once one is instituted, it never, ever goes away.
    Second: A gas tax hike will hurt the little folks who are on a fixed income. Trucking companies, airlines, etc. can pass the tax hike on to consumers. But those of us who are on fixed incomes have to absorb it at the pump and by the increased cost of goods. And we can’t pass it on because we’re at the bottom of the tax feeding frenzy.

  8. HowardBrazee February 5, 2015

    We need to be considering alternatives to gas tax as vehicles move away from using gasoline.

    1. Independent1 February 5, 2015

      Absolutely. One of the reasons why there is less money in the highway maintenance fund is that gas tax revenues have declined sharply because cars have gotten more fuel efficient and people are driving less.

      1. Lynda Groom February 5, 2015

        And don’t forget that in the next few decades our population will grow by approximately 70 million. If we are going to do nothing to improve the state of our roads and connected infrastructure we had better hope they all like riding public transit.

        1. paulyz February 5, 2015

          Exactly, our rapidly growing population, due mainly to excessive immigration @ high Illegal “immigration” is depleting our natural resources. They also cause us to be much more dependent on foreign oil @ more domestic oil production. There are also severe water shortages in the S.W. US. A very good organization that discusses this and has good solutions is N.P.G. Check it out.

  9. Charles Evans February 5, 2015

    Congress has not passed an infrastructure jobs bill since John Boenher promised that jobs would the the number one focus of the GOP once they took control of the House of Representatives back in 2011. Since infrastructure encompasses the building and repair of roads and bridges, what makes anyone think that a federal gas tax hike would motivate Congress to do what it has not done since the Republicans took control. If anything the revenue from a federal tax hike on gas would be used as an excuse by Boehner and the Republicans to re-invoke the Bush tax cuts for the rich. Not one dime would go toward infrastructure. A new cash cow for Corporate America, compliments of the Republican led Congress.

  10. Ken from the Seacoast February 5, 2015

    I’m sure there are plenty of shovel ready projects. Let’s take/borrow another trillion from tax payers and future generations and give to those politically in favor??? Until Congress can prove themselves good stewards of the tax money already allotted to transportation (~ $50 billion/year), they shouldn’t get another dime.

    The six year reauthorization bill is more of the same. It fails to address the known structural issues in the department. For example, it doesn’t prohibit diversion of surface transportation funds to programs like bicycle paths and historic-style street lamps. Those types of projects should be funded and managed by the states, cities and towns. It’s another form of pork barrel spending.


  11. Allan Richardson February 5, 2015

    What we REALLY need — and simply changing the percentage rate or per-gallon rate of existing taxes on gasoline will not do it — is SIMULTANEOUSLY raise the price of fossil fuels enough to give an incentive to make the investment to renewable fuels (which, like other products, start out at a high unit price and go down when the mass production and mass distribution infrastructure are in place), AND YET provide relief for working class Americans who are, with their own situation, unable to continue their standard of living, unable to move closer to work, unable to find jobs closer to home, and unable to switch vehicles to use renewable fuels FOR THE TIME BEING, and help them to do so over the long term.

    I have a number of suggestions which would have to be part of a total package in order to be effective and fair to everyone (except perhaps to those who have already benefited greatly from the unfairness to others). First, replace all tax deductions for travel mileage with a “necessary energy” tax credit, and add commuting mileage to the mix. While the tax AT THE PUMP for fossil fuel should be high enough to discourage waste, the tax credit should be the exact amount which would cancel out that tax for someone driving a vehicle with the AVERAGE fuel mileage to work, school, medical appointments and charitable activities, but should be bases on ACTUAL miles traveled, regardless of means (driving, walking, mass transit, etc).

    For most commuters, actual miles to and from work, and from one workplace to another can be computed BY THE EMPLOYER’S payroll program using the same mileage computation programs found in GPS software (something like Google maps), since the employer KNOWS every employee’s home address and the addresses of all their work sites. An advance on this tax credit (which would always be equal to the amount actually owed, and can be printed on the W-2 form), would be included as an extra reimbursement in every paycheck, so that workers would not go broke paying out all year at the pump a tax they would get back only on filing their tax return. Self employed people can keep a log of addresses visited, and compute their mileage using a standard app for each trip (if cash flow is a problem, they could claim the tax credit on their quarterly returns). Educational, medical and charitable mileage could be claimed in the same way.

    Now here’s where the incentive comes in: you get the same tax credit (based on the national fleet average miles per energy unit in fossil fuel) no matter how you get to work. If you carpool with two other workers, you each get the tax credit, but if nothing else changes, you each pay only a third of the pump tax. If you use mass transit, you get the full tax credit as if you drove, but pay in only the bus fare, If you walk or bike, again, the full tax credit for little or no expense. If you get a more efficient fossil fuel vehicle, or one that takes renewable fuel (which would not be taxed at the pump), even better. But if you insist on traveling to work in an inefficient vehicle, you will pay more at the pump than you get back, and likewise if you make unnecessary trips in that vehicle (just like it is now). But there would be some relief for a low wage worker, for example, who is stuck in a country house because he is upside down on equity and cannot move closer to the job, stuck in an old gas guzzling SUV or pickup truck several years old because he cannot afford to trade it in on something more efficient, or cannot find a new job closer to home, because he would get the tax credit added to each paycheck.

    Now as more inefficient fossil fuel vehicles are replaced, the national average on which the pump tax and the credit are based would go down over the years, providing LESS relief for those whose residence and job locations and vehicle choice do not change. The tax would fund a program to help FINANCE purchase of vehicles burning less, or no, fossil fuel (analogous to a student loan or a VA home loan), and also to help finance DEVELOPMENT of renewable energy sources and vehicles. No one who makes a reasonable ATTEMPT to save fossil fuel energy would be bankrupted by the pump tax, but it would be painful enough to urge the transition, while collecting the funds to make that transition.

  12. Ms. Newton February 5, 2015

    Obama’s a joke.

  13. itsfun February 5, 2015

    How much will it help the middle class to raise the gas tax? Obama keeps talking about helping the middle class. Must be he plans to tax the middle class into prosperity.

  14. Lynda Groom February 5, 2015

    I suppose those opposed to any increase in taxes of anykind won’t be bitching about the state of our ever deteriorating infrastructure and roads. Yeah right, like that will happen.

    1. Ken from the Seacoast February 6, 2015

      You’re conflating deteriorating infrastructure with the need for tax increases. The beaurocrats need to be better stewards of the money already confiscated from taxpayers and future generations before taking more. For example, the Federal Highways Administration budget request for FY 2015 is $47 billion. Less than half of that ($22 billion) actually goes to maintaining infrastructure! Maybe if they spent all $47 billion on “State of Good Repair”, there wouldn’t be a need for a tax increase. Further, assuming the additional taxes were apportioned according to the FY 2015 budget, only $0.46 cents on the dollar would actually go towards repairs and improvements!

      That’s why there are those opposed to any tax increase.

      1. Lynda Groom February 6, 2015

        Of course there is much more to improving our infrastructure than just fixing roads. I’ve no argument with your remark that government needs to be better stewards of the revenue they already receive. That is certainly true thoughout governement. One only has took look the horrible job done by the Dept of Defense to see massive waste and abuse. Can you provide the source of your claim that only $0.46 actually goes toward repair and improvements of our federal roads? Where does it go besides administrative costs and alike. Out here in California the idea of a yearly user fee of $50.00 something dollars is being floated to work on our deteriorating road infrastructure.

        1. Ken from the Seacoast February 6, 2015

          Straight out of the FY 2015 Budget Request

          Safety : 8.9 billion
          Repairs : 22.7 billion (the 0.46 that actually goes to repairs)
          Economic Competitiveness : 6.77 billion (whatever this is???)
          Quality of Life : 3.7 billion (whatever this is???)
          Environmental Sustainability: 4.85 billion (why is this in a highway funding bill, because they can. And where does it all go ???)
          Organizational Excellence : 290 million (LOL)
          Other : 61.5 million

          Total: USD 47,262,248,000

          1. Lynda Groom February 6, 2015

            Thank you.

    2. paulyz February 6, 2015

      There were several multi-Billion $ funds to deal with our old infrastructure. There was the Super Fund using oil money, then there was the multi-Billions in the stimulus funds, but they apparently weren’t shovel ready, ha-ha, but mostly used for something else. Now all those Billions have been squandered & the infrastructure still needs fixing. Now there is the need to harden our power-grid that has been ignored, while not spending funds on our pourous border, and these both concern our National Security..

      1. Lynda Groom February 7, 2015

        Perhaps you are not aware of how the money from the so-called stimulus was actually spent. Of the $787 billion approximately $288 billion was in the form of various tax cuts. Small businesses got a nice chunk of those tax cuts that were used to expand, add inventory and employ people. There were thousand and thousand of projects (shovel-ready) that were funded and completed with those funds. Why not go to Recovery.gov and check what happened your state and area code. We drive each and every day on miles of new highway, with new sound walls, funded and completed by men and women getting a paycheck from those funds. A little town up the hill from us got a desperated needed dental clinic. We got a couple of new police cars and an upgrade to our firestations.

        BTW, if you really look into the process that was required to pass the stimulus bill you’ll find that the votes weren’t there unless a large portion was not for ‘shovel-ready’ projects. However, I believe we both agree that more of funding should have been for such projects.

  15. j.martindale February 8, 2015

    If it weren’t for the fact that this tax would fall heaviest on the poor, I would say quadruple the tax. We need to make carbon fuels a thing of the past.

  16. Anne Droid February 10, 2015

    The people of the United States have unequivocally rejected Hussein Obama’s delusions of a technocratic dictatorship.

    1. TheSkalawag929 February 11, 2015

      What people? The five or six that you know? Your use of the President’s middle name shows that you belong to that group who is delusional. How do you define “technocratic dictatorship”?

  17. Han Dee February 14, 2015

    The problem? Obama. It’s that simple, really.


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