(The opinions expressed in guest op-eds are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of RedState.com.)
For months, President Biden and scores of federal lawmakers have been paying lip service about Americans’ struggles to keep up with inflation, especially when it comes to rapidly rising prices at the pump.
For instance, in a recent op-ed he wrote for The Wall Street Journal, Biden said he has taken “every practical step to make things more affordable for families during this moment of economic uncertainty—and to boost the productive capacity of our economy over time.”
He added that when it comes to record-high prices at the pump, he has specifically “led the largest release from global oil reserves in history.”
Yet, despite his draining of the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve and whatever he was referring to when he said he has taken “every practical step” to reduce inflation, Americans are still facing the fact that gas prices continue to rise and inflation is getting worse, not better.
So, aside from the rhetorical gestures and hollow policies, what can Biden and Congress actually do to reduce the exorbitant price of a gallon of gasoline, which now costs an average of $4.67 per gallon?
For starters, it would certainly behoove the Biden administration and Congress to strongly consider a national gas tax “holiday.”
As of now, the current federal tax on a gallon of gasoline stands at 18-cents-per-gallon for regular gasoline and 24-cents-per-gallon for diesel fuel.
If Biden and Congress wanted to make an immediate and meaningful difference when it comes to gas prices, they would work in tandem to put these federal tax levies on hold, at least for the foreseeable future.
On top of the federal gas tax, every state has an additional state-based fuel tax. As can be expected, most “blue” states have enacted onerous gas taxes over the years while most “red” states have maintained lower fuel taxes. However, every state in the nation has a gas tax, which is only increasing the price at the pump.
For example, in my home state of Illinois, the state collects a 39-cent tax for every gallon of regular gasoline sold. For diesel fuel, Illinois rakes in a whopping 47-cents-per-gallon. Californians must cough up 51 cents to the Golden State for every gallon of gasoline they purchase. In New Jersey, the gas tax is also well above the national average at 42-cents-per-gallon for regular gasoline and 49-cents-per-gallon of diesel fuel.
When one combines the federal and state gasoline taxes, the average American is forced to pay an additional 51-cents-per-gallon in taxes alone.
Seeing as how Americans are unable to afford the current prices for gasoline, which are expected to continue to increase throughout the summer driving season, it makes perfect sense for a national moratorium on fuel taxes.
If Biden could finagle this tax freeze on fuel through Congress, Americans would instantly experience some welcome relief at the pump.
Moreover, if states jumped on the gas tax holiday bandwagon, Americans suffering from the highest gas prices in blue states would benefit even more.
Fortunately, some states are already ahead of the curve when it comes to suspending gas taxes. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill in March to temporarily halt his state’s 29-cent-per-gallon tax, yet that only lasted until May 31.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill in April that will suspend the Empire State’s 16-cent-per-gallon tax from June 1 to December 31. To date, Connecticut and Maryland have also taken similar actions, although their suspensions only last a month or so.
While it is necessary to keep in mind that suspending gas taxes would cause the federal and state governments to raise less money, it seems like a worthwhile trade-off. And, states could mandate spending offsets to ensure that budget shortfalls do not result from such gas tax suspensions.
With almost two-thirds of American households living paycheck to paycheck, a combined state and federal gas tax holiday would make a world of a difference. And, it would serve as a much-needed reminder for we the people that we are getting nickel-and-dimed to death courtesy of our so-called representatives at the state and federal levels.
Chris Talgo ([email protected]) is senior editor at The Heartland Institute.
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