A Little Numbers Game

| April 27, 2006 | 6 Replies

Did you know that the federal gas tax, per gallon is 18.4 cents?

ConocoPhillips’ 9 cent profit was right around the industry average last year and wasn’t any larger than that of its competitor, Exxon Mobil. That company just posted a record quarterly profit that has caused Congress to hop into their gas-guzzling SUVs and drive a whole block to grandstand and generally lie about excessive corporate profits.

That means that the government is getting at least twice what the oil companies get every single year. Economics being what it is, those profit margins float up and down depending on the market and the costs the company incurs. The government, on the other hand, is guaranteed 18.4 cents per gallon no matter what.

Does that seem even remotely right to you? It sure as hell doesn’t seem like a good thing at all to me. Does the government need 18.4 cents per gallon?

And before you tell me about how we need that money for road projects, consider one more thing. In 1981 the Federal gas tax was 4 cents per gallon. Have road construction demands gone up so much that we need to collect an additional 14.4 cents? Mind you that when we built our entire interstate highway system, we did it on that 4 cents per gallon rate.

So what extensive road improvements have we made that has necessitated 14.4 more cents per gallon? Have we given more to the states and local governments? Well, maybe we have, but that would make the extra 23.5 cents per gallon my home state of Maryland collects in state and local gas taxes look a bit extravagant. It can’t explain why my state collected that money while it was receiving federal gas tax money and ran a surplus of one billion dollars in 2005.

Obviously, what is excessive when it comes to gasoline prices is the tax rate. But I don’t expect Congress to haul back from that trough anytime soon. They’re too busy mugging for the cameras and figuring out how to spend their own gas tax “windfall”.

Category: Political Pontifications

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