You're confounding two separate ideas (taxing and spending) here. Yes, the tax on gasoline per gallon is a great tax - as I said above - because it discourages consumption. In the same way, taxing cigarettes is a great tax. But what's stupid is tying the gas tax revenue to highway infrastructure. It makes no practical difference - if gas tax revenue is greater than infrastructure needs, legislators would just "borrow" from it anyway, while when gas tax revenue isn't enough (the usual case) legislators make up the difference with the general fund anyway*. At least that's what the legislators should do, but creating this false pairing gives them the chance to sound off about falling gas tax revenue and try to invent new taxes, even when the general fund is overflowing!TimLee wrote:The tax on fossil fuels on a per gallon basis was actually one of the more intelligently designed tax mechanisms.
It did have shortcomings in that it was regressive on the lower income persons driving older less efficient vehicles.
But it appropriately taxed Hummer drivers more.
It never taxed large trucks appropriately based on their damage to the infrastructure.
And as vehicles became more efficient, revenue fell as it was not indexed to the ongoing need for infrastructure [maintenance] funding.
So it had some shortcomings.
We elect representatives specifically to perform the job of allocating money from the general fund as needed. What's so stupid about expecting them to do their jobs, and holding them accountable when they don't?But to say everything should all come out of general revenue is a stupid idea.
*If this still isn't clear, it helps to do the math:
Say infrastructure spending needs are $1B, Gas tax revenue is $500M, and general fund is $100B.
In "Case A", gas tax revenue is tied to infrastructure spending. So the remaining needs are $500M, which has to come from the general fund, leaving $99.5B for other things.
In "Case B", gas tax revenue goes into the general fund like any other tax, giving $100.5B. Then infrastructure spending comes out of the general fund like any other spending, leaving $99.5B for other things.
There's no real difference between Case A and Case B! The only difference is that in Case A politicians whine about having to spend from the general fund and try to enact new taxes, while in Case B they just go about their business and see each of gas tax revenue and infrastructure spending as just another line item in the budget.