If you’ve lived through enough elections, you come to expect the pious promises from politicians who are shocked, shocked, I say, over some bit of negative economic news, and who promise to take immediate steps to improve things for us poor consumers. Considering the current run-up in fuel prices, you’d expect the three remaining presidential contenders to offer up their own solutions.
Maybe they could start with steps to rein in the speculators who are largely responsible for the record prices we’re seeing? Nah, that would be too difficult, and might tick off some potential investors, er, campaign contributors. Instead, two of the White House wannabes have been promoting the idea of a gas tax holiday, demanding that the 18-cent-per-gallon federal tax on gasoline be eliminated, at least temporarily.
I guess that any money saved is a good thing, though realistically, 18 cents doesn’t mean very much when it comes to $4 gas. And then we’d have to figure out how to make up the billions lost from the Federal Highway Fund, one of the rare places where our tax money really does go to work.
But if we’re talking about a fuel tax holiday, why don’t we focus, instead, on diesel. Surprise, surprise, the Feds actually take a bigger bite out of your wallet for this fuel, a much more significant 24 cents. When you’re getting – maybe, downhill – 5 mpg, this adds up quickly.
In normal times, I might argue that this is justified. After all, heavy-duty trucking puts far more wear and tear on our highways than even that big SUV in your driveway, so it’s only fair that they pay to keep it up.
Or, should I say, that we pay, because we consumers are ultimately the ones to absorb that fuel tax, passed on in everything from our FedEx package charges to the price we pay for food. And right now, the entire U.S. economy is getting socked by higher shipping charges. So if you really want to help out, Mr. (Ms.?) President-to-be, take some steps to curb rising diesel prices. Everyone will benefit.