Focus Point - Gas Price Follies

Commentary by Pete du Pont

I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Conservatives are demanding the government cut the gasoline tax. Liberals say we can't afford to cut the tax because Washington needs the money, and besides, the only way to cure Americans of their evil addiction to cars is to raise gas prices, not lower them.

So what's up?

First, understand federal, state and local taxes add fifty-nine percent to the cost of a gallon of gas. Eisenhower established the federal tax to build highways -- a good idea. By 1982, it was only four cents a gallon. Then, politicians realized they had a big spigot to turn; now, it's 18.4 cents, and its vast revenues go to "transportation." and what's that? Flush toilets for an Ohio park. A documentary about "infrastructure awareness." A tourist center in Minnesota. In other words, pork.

We could cut the tax back to the five cents needed to maintain the federal highway systems. But big-spending Republicans don't want to reduce the pork. And Democratic liberals back Al Gore's goal of eliminating the internal combustion engine. So don't expect changes any time soon.

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, Canadians get it right.