Op-Ed: Cutting the Gas Tax Won't Fill Our Tanks, But It Will Help Democrats


Democrats are floating the idea of cutting the gas tax.

Certainly, one can understand why. The increase in fuel costs is hurting us all, but especially those at the bottom of the income scale. These are the folks Democrats say they care about.

The public is howling, with most blaming President Joe Biden and the Democrats. A minority believe that the increase is caused by greedy oil companies. Neither they nor Biden can explain why when gas was half this price companies were half as greedy.

Let’s face it. Companies always seek a profit. If profits are going up, it should attract capital to expand production. It is Biden and his “green”-fanatic supporters who have short-circuited this market response. Why invest if the government is going to put you out of business in just a few years?

Democrats are just looking to do something to ease the pain of the fall elections. Republicans should not accommodate them for the following reasons:

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As a tactical matter, do not provide your opponents political cover when they are in the process of destroying themselves.

We should replay as often as possible all the campaign promises wherein Democrats pledged to put the oil and gas industry out of business. We should explain to the public how ESG starves energy corporations of capital and reduces supply.

This blowback over high prices needs to be unleashed not just on Biden, but on university departments, environmental organizations and Democratic politicians from Al Gore to AOC. This has been their multi-year pet project, and we now see the consequences.

More importantly, reducing a tax does not produce one bit of additional energy. Rather, it gives Democrats the appearance that they care while they impoverish us all in their Green New Deal fantasy.

Should the gas tax be removed to lower prices?

No, let the reality of what they are doing sink in. Many of the people who voted for Biden need to be introduced to reality by personally experiencing the consequences of destroying the oil industry before better alternatives are available.

Let people see the tradeoff. “Hmm… I lose my job and can’t feed my kids versus the possibility of changing the temperature of the earth in 100 years.” It is time for tough love.

Democrats are deliberately reducing our standard of living to force their ideas on climate change. They are the ones messing with oil, gas, refining, coal mining, hydroelectric, nuclear power and transportation. Their “solution” of windmills and solar can’t do the job, so they tax alternatives and subsidize their projects to make us “choose” the way they want us to. Not much of a choice, is it?

The resulting economic damage will be huge and high gas prices are simply the beginning. You will soon see higher heating oil, natural gas, propane and electricity costs. Then you will see higher transport costs and higher prices for everything from food to plastic pipe to garbage bags.

That pain you feel is a positive thing because it will build political awareness. That is why Democrats are looking for a gimmick to save their hide come the midterms. Incidentally, it was former President Barack Obama who called a gas tax reduction a “gimmick.” He was right.

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It is the same with the release of oil from the strategic oil reserve. Such action produces no energy and uses what is supposed to be reserved for when the country is involved in war or confrontation with an energy producer like Iran or Russia. What we have seen is a misuse of that reserve. It is not a political piggy bank to be drawn on when Democrats are in trouble.

Such releases have not slowed appreciably the rise in energy costs and leave us dangerously vulnerable to Russia and some of the bad actors in the Middle East.

We could have gotten an almost equivalent amount of oil from Canada simply by completing pipelines that were already well on the way to completion — projects, incidentally, that were canceled by Biden in one of his first acts upon entering office.

The U.S. has immense energy reserves and Democrats stand in the way of them being utilized. It is painful for us all, but we must let that reality be driven home.

There are additional problems. This revenue goes to the highway trust fund and is needed for vital infrastructure improvement. We should not let that trust fund be raided by politicians seeking relief from their own policies.

That money will have to be made up somewhere. Thus, the loss in revenue increases the deficit. Larger deficits must be financed by either borrowing (increasing interest rates) or by money-printing (which can increase both interest rates and inflation.)

Finally, the amount of 18 cents for gasoline and 24 cents for diesel is hardly enough to provide relief. We have seen the price of gas go up that much in a day or two.

In summary, cutting the gas tax is a political gesture with no meaningful upside other than to help Biden and the Democrats hide their culpability for their ham-handed energy “transition.”

Even if you buy into all of their global warming arguments, there are better ways to “transition” and there are reasonable ways to respond to the climate changing (which it is always doing, with or without our activities).

If you doubt the “science” behind their claims, their plans look not only stupid but suicidal. Coming out of a worldwide pandemic and engaging in a war with a major energy producer is challenging enough. To force this transition at this time in history is just plain stupid.

If we really want a sane energy policy, the Democrats need to lose. We should see that they do.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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Neland Nobel has two degrees in history with a specialty in economic history. He was awarded a Richard M. Weaver Fellowship from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. Nobel worked for 47 years in financial services. In retirement, he founded and serves as editor at large.