You might have noticed the spectacular collapse of global crude oil prices reflected in the commensurate reduction of your weekly gasoline bill. Gas prices are lower, much lower, than they were just a few months ago. For Washington D.C., that represents an opportunity. Even for congressional Republicans, even a little bit more money in your wallet presents a chance to hike your taxes.
On Wednesday, the new GOP chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works panel, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), said a hike in the gasoline tax is on the table as a means of paying into the Highway Trust Fund. As President Barack Obama would no doubt note, that fund is of vital importance for keeping the nation’s roads and bridge up to code.
“It’s not a tax,” Inhofe said. “It’s a user fee.”
Outside Beltway, that’s a distinction without a difference.
Inhofe’s embrace of a new, ahem, “user fee” for those who purchase the gasoline was shared by the new Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT). “We’ll have to look at that. I’m looking at everything—every possible way of taking care of the highway bill,” Hatch echoed. (Read more about the gas tax hike HERE)