4 Of 5 Top Papers Call For Federal Gas Tax Hike

National papers say it is ‘perfect’ time and an ‘obvious’ move to raise the gas tax, even as lower gas prices ‘stimulate economy.’

Four out of five top U.S. newspapers have called for federal gas tax hikes on the editorial page since oil and gas prices began falling significantly June 19, 2014.

In spite of polls that show most Americans oppose it, The Washington Post, USA Today, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times newspapers have all published editorials that called for increasing the gas tax.  Gas prices fell from $3.675 on June 19, 2014, to $2.168 on Jan. 9, 2015, according to AAA. The Wall Street Journal was the only publication not to editorialize in favor of higher gas taxes of the five national newspapers.

The Washington Post’s editorial board called it the “perfect time” for Congress to raise the federal gas tax Jan. 7, 2015.

“On principle and on politics, now is the best time Washington has seen in years to raise the federal gas tax,” the Post’s editorial said.

USA Today also argued in a Dec. 11, 2014, editorial that it was an ideal time to increase the gas tax, since such a move would “barely be felt” by drivers because of falling gas prices. In a previous editorial from Oct. 19, 2014, USA Today also said that although lower gases prices had served as an “economic stimulus,” cheaper gas also came with “minuses.”

Because lower gas prices contributed to “climate change” and resulted in “more stress” to the U.S. highway system, the USA Today claimed “there is an obvious if unpopular answer: Raise the federal gasoline tax.”

On July 15, 2014, The New York Times editorial page blamed Congress for failing “to collect and spend enough money to fix” the U.S. transportation system. The editorial faulted Congressional Republicans for their “ideological refusal” to raise the gas tax and counter “dwindling revenues” for transportation projects.

The Los Angeles Times also argued that Congress ought to “fix” the Highway Trust Fund, which it said was “about to go broke,” by “starting with an increase in the fuel tax.”  That June 23, 2014, editorial  noted that Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., had already co-sponsored “a common-sense proposal” to raise the federal gas tax from 18.4 to 30.4 cents-a-gallon.

Other GOP congressmen may be willing to go along with Corker and the liberal media by supporting an increase in the gas tax. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., incoming chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said on "Fox News Sunday" Jan. 4, said the Corker had taken a “strong stand on the issue,” and that raising the gas tax was a possibility.

“I don't think we take anything off the table at this point,” Thune said when anchor Chris Wallace pressed him about the gas tax.

Democrat Ed Rendell, former governor of Pennsylvania, touted Corker’s bill during  a Dec. 5, 2014, interview with CNBC’s “On the Money.” He said it was the time to raise the federal gas tax to fix the nation’s “crumbling” infrastructure.

Yet, the majority of Americans oppose raising the gas tax. More than two-thirds of Americans said they opposed a hike, according to survey conducted in December by Benson Strategy Group and SKDKnickerbocker.

Chris Chocola, a former Republican Congressman from Indiana and the president of the conservative Club for Growth, criticized the federal gas tax as well as the Highway Trust Fund in a USA Today op-ed in Oct. 19, 2014. “Not only is raising the gas tax misguided, but we should not even have a federal gas tax to begin with because it finances a program that is inherently broken,” he said.

Chocola argued that the federal gas tax “perpetuated” the Highway Trust Fund, which he said was “an outdated funding scheme for America's infrastructure needs” and unaccountable to state and local governments. In his view, the states could do a better job than the federal government of addressing infrastructure needs.