Talks between the White House and GOP leaders in the House of Representatives are on everyone's mind, and solutions and ideas are coming fast and thick from many corners of Washington. But CNN thinks it has the way to fix it all: raise the gas tax.
Dishonestly portraying "some experts" as offering a new fix to the fiscal cliff, CNN explored the idea of hiking the federal gas tax because, author Steve Hargreaves says, the current 18.4 cents per gallon is "not enough."
"As lawmakers race to negotiate a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff," Hargreaves urgently reports, "some experts say one tax increase should be on the table: a gas tax hike."
The tax, which raises $32 billion a year, hasn't been raised since 1993, he tells us. This is just not enough to serve our needs, Hargreaves reports "an expert" as saying.
"Establishing a sustainable resource base for transportation needs to be part of any grand bargain," said Emil Frankel, a former transportation expert in the George W. Bush administration and now director of transportation policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center. "In the short run, raising the gas tax is the best way to do that."
These "experts" have been saying for years that the gas tax needs to be hiked, so this discussion is not tied to "fiscal cliff" talks at all. Essentially, there is nothing new in this gas tax debate.
Yet CNN portrays this as a new aspect to the fiscal cliff talks. It just isn't.
There has been talk of hiking the gas tax, granted. Most recently, the 2010 Simpson-Bowles debt reduction plan proposed a 15 cent-per-gallon hike in the gas tax to cut into the current shortfall in Transportation spending.
Hargreaves mentions the other proposals to raise the gas tax, of course, but all this has been a continuing discussion, one going on for years, and has no connection specifically to the fiscal cliff talks or even the reason we got here... except for one thing—spending cuts.
Every "solution" this article presents is but one form or another of raising taxes. Not once is there a mention of cutting spending.
The truth is that Washington doesn't have a tax problem. The annual federal deficit is over $1 trillion, and no new tax will raise this amount of additional revenue—merely stopping the addition of new debt—each year. Washington has a spending problem, and unless cuts in spending become part of the fiscal cliff talks, there aren't any serious "solutions" in the offing.