Voters REJECT Gas Tax Hike, Don’t Care About Benefits
A new poll shows that more than two-thirds of American voters oppose any increase in the federal gas tax, even if the proceeds would be spent on infrastructure projects.
The poll was conducted by Freedom Partners, a nonpartisan free-market advocacy organization, and asked respondents to evaluate statements incorporating the primary arguments made by both supporters and opponents of increasing the gas tax.
To establish a baseline against which to evaluate responses, the poll also asked voters to assess the impact that falling gas prices have had on their personal finances, finding that 79 percent reported a positive impact, compared to just 4 percent who reported negative effects.
Currently, certain members of Congress from both parties are advocating for a hike in the 18.4 cents-per-gallon federal gas tax that is used to fund transportation projects, arguing that the recent drop in gas prices will allow the tax to be raised without unduly burdening consumers. (RELATED: As Oil Prices Fall, Lawmakers Propose Higher Gas Tax)
According to The Hill, “the money would be used to close an approximately $20 billion shortfall in infrastructure funding,” allowing Congress to pass a long-term infrastructure bill, as opposed to the short-term fixes it has repeatedly had to fall back on in recent years.
In a prepared statement supporting the effort, Laborers’ International Union of North America President Terry O’Sullivan noted that, “the main way our country pays for surface transportation has been frozen since 1993,” and claimed that, “since then, the gas tax has lost 40 percent of its value.”
Those arguments seem to be having an impact in Congress. National Journal reports that, “talk about a gas tax increase is getting serious,” noting that several Republicans have already expressed openness to the idea. (RELATED: Boehner: Read My Lips, ‘No Gas Tax Hikes’)
Senate Finance Committee chairman Orrin Hatch, whom National Journal describes as “a fairly solid conservative,” said in January that a gas tax hike would be “a small price to pay for the best highway system in the world,” while Sen. Susan Collins and Rep. Bob Corker have also expressed conditional support for the proposal.
The Freedom Partners poll, however, reveals that voters are proving more reluctant to part with the economic benefits of falling gas prices than their representatives, regardless of how the question is framed. (RELATED: Don’t Even Think About Raising the Gas Tax)
In response to the argument that the gas tax should be raised to keep up with inflation, 79 percent agreed that, “increasing the federal gasoline tax would reverse the financial relief many are starting to feel.”
Conversely, just 14 percent agreed with the statement: “Because the cost of gasoline is falling, now is the right time to increase the federal gasoline tax. The federal gasoline tax has been unchanged since 1993 and it needs to be increased because it has not kept up with inflation.”
Support for hiking the tax rose slightly when the proposal was framed as a means of boosting infrastructure investment, but even then, a solid majority remained opposed.
Only 21 percent agreed that, “Our roads, bridges, and highways are in disrepair and this extra money would help increase the amount of money available for transportation construction,” while 68 percent agreed that, “Washington has poorly managed our money, and it’s time to get back to states and local communities being accountable.”
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