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New Idea: Let’s Raise Taxes

5:42 PM, Jul 14, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
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Representative Peter Welch (Democrat, Vermont and, by the way, my representative) has announced that he is in favor of raising the tax on gasoline. He has a safe seat and, anyway, in Vermont it isn’t politically dangerous to propose a tax increase, especially if it can be somehow made into a positive for jobs and infrastructure and a negative for automobiles and oil companies. Vermont is eagerly anticipating the arrival of cars that are powered by wind.

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Meanwhile, there are people who must drive. For whom gasoline is not a discretionary item on the budget. They will have to cut back on organic arugula.  

The argument for the tax is that the highway trust fund is "running out of money." This seems odd, since a tax of more than 18 cents a gallon remains in place and the money it captures (which must be quite a bit) goes into this fund. There are probably a lot of things that could be done with that money, especially if it were spent with the kind of discipline of which government is incapable.

What “running out of money” means in Washington is that there isn’t enough of it to do all things that Congress would like to do. Things that will result in ... reelection for incumbents.  

So, when the time of “running out of money” is very near and shadows fall across the land, Washington begins threatening a loss of jobs and lousy roads. 

It has learned that if you want to make them come across with the money, you must first make them feel a little pain.

Works every time.

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