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Oracle of Delphi

Ready for the Gas Tax to go up another dime a gallon?

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WASHINGTON - The political vision of a summer gas tax holiday died a quick death in Congress, losing to a view that federal excise taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel will have to go up if they go anywhere.

Despite calls from the presidential campaign trail for a Memorial Day-to-Labor Day tax freeze, lawmakers quickly concluded — with a prod from the construction industry — that having $9 billion less to spend on highways could create a pre-election specter of thousands of lost jobs.

Now, lawmakers quietly are talking about raising fuel taxes by a dime from the current 18.4 cents a gallon on gasoline and 24.3 cents on diesel fuel.

With gas prices setting records daily, Republican presidential hopeful John McCain and former Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton called for a 90-day suspension of the federal fuel tax to give drivers a little relief at the pump. The fuel taxes go into the Highway Trust Fund, which is used for road construction and repair and mass transit.

Clinton suggested making up for the loss by imposing a windfall profit tax on oil companies, an idea that Republicans rejected. McCain said the money could come out of the general Treasury fund, in effect adding to the federal deficit, and is still getting mileage from the idea.

"Some economists don't think much of my gas tax holiday," he said in a speech this month. "But the American people like it, and so do small business owners."

Barack Obama, the likely Democratic nominee, opposed the idea from the beginning and the White House gave it a cold shoulder. Depriving the 52-year-old Highway Trust Fund of $9 billion at a time when it is heading into the red doomed the notion of a gas tax holiday in Congress.

The chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. James Oberstar, and the chairman of the highway subcommittee, Rep. Peter DeFazio, presented fellow lawmakers with a list of how many jobs and how much money each state would lose. It ranged from $30 million and 1,000 jobs in Vermont to $664 million and 23,000 jobs in California.

"Because the trust fund is already looking at a looming shortfall, it would have moved project cancellations into the construction season," DeFazio, D-Ore., said in an interview. He said it was "highly unlikely" that oil companies would have passed savings along to consumers.

Trust fund deficit expected

Just three years ago, that trust fund enjoyed a surplus of $10 billion. Even without a tax freeze, the fund is projected to finish 2009 with a deficit of $3 billion. That that could grow as Americans drive less and buy less gas because of higher pump prices.

The consequence is that only about $27 billion in federal money will be available next year to states and local governments for new infrastructure investment even though the current highway act calls for spending $41 billion a year. For many, the solution is to raise rather than suspend or cut federal fuel taxes, which haven't changed since 1993.

The Transportation Construction Coalition, a group of industry companies and unions, said that if Congress does not do something about the shortfall, states will lose about one-third of their road and bridge money in the budget year starting Oct. 1. That would put 485,000 more jobs at risk.

That message carried the day this summer. But now Congress has the bigger task of dealing with the short-term deficit crisis in the fund and coming up with a new spending plan, including revisiting the gas tax issue, when the current six-year, $286 billion highway-transit act expires in September 2009.

Senate Democrats in May tried to add $5 billion to an aviation overhaul bill to replenish the highway trust fund next year; Republicans objected. Democrats tried again in June, but this time for $8 billion; Republicans objected to that, too.

Article continues: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25751775/

Edited by Pontiac Custom-S
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Nobody likes paying taxes, but the condition of the country's infrastructure borders on shameful. The federal gas tax was last raised 15 years ago, while construction costs about doubled. It's like taking care of your house, if you keep deferring maintenance, in the end you end up paying a lot more to take care of the damage.

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So, 90 days of an 18.4 / 23.4 cent tax equals $9,000,000,000 ? And they're facing a shortfall ?? When they had a $10,000,000,000 surplus 3 years ago?? 10-cents more would return roughly a $20B SURPLUS annually - how is that remotely justified when we're only supposedly looking at a $3B shortfall ????????????????

Sorry: denied.

I don't support the gas tax holiday, but then again- I don't support the gas tax, period.

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no surprise. the previous congresses did nothing or steal from the gas tax income, now they want more income, prolly with no promises to not spend that money on anything else. like the cali post... how are they supposed to make the same income when demand has been legislated smaller, like with CAFE increases

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One of the main culprits of our fiscal deficit is government spending. These "honorable" men and women who serve US should be restrained from spending our money like it is their own and not give back the performance that we need.

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Much like in the corporate world: government officials should be given performance reviews, and terminated for insufficient grades. There's zero accountability.

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Much like in the corporate world: government officials should be given performance reviews, and terminated for insufficient grades. There's zero accountability.

There are elections every 2 years.

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One of the main culprits of our fiscal deficit is government spending. These "honorable" men and women who serve US should be restrained from spending our money like it is their own and not give back the performance that we need.

government should be the only business run by it's union, US.

Much like in the corporate world: government officials should be given performance reviews, and terminated for insufficient grades. There's zero accountability.

There are elections every 2 years.

and many people don't pay attention to what those people have done, the media rarely "forces" unreelection, on fair grounds.

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You cant blame the media, or the government, for the fact that the voters of this country dont pay attention. Would it be better if news outlets ran stories about bills and whatnot instead of sex scandals? Yep. But that would require the politicians not soliciting sex in airport bathrooms, or trying to hook up with pages or whatever else. America is a white-trash nation that is more interested in crap like that than actual politics, and its their own damn fault.

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You cant blame the media, or the government, for the fact that the voters of this country dont pay attention.

Best sentence ever about what makes any Democracy work (or fail). :thumbsup:

Edited by ZL-1
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They can stick it. I am sick of high gas prices. Some body has to get there thumb out of there ass and start drilling for oil domestically.

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Its not that simple. They have to locate the oil, locate a suitable spot from which to drill, get the rigs in place, it will take years for any oil drilled from new reserves ends up in your gas tank. Thats not going to bring gas prices down anytime soon. People are just going to have to adapt, either drive less, or drive more efficient cars, or cut other expenses to compensate for the price of gas.

Drilling domestically isn't the answer, alternative energy is the answer.

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Its not that simple. They have to locate the oil, locate a suitable spot from which to drill, get the rigs in place, it will take years for any oil drilled from new reserves ends up in your gas tank. Thats not going to bring gas prices down anytime soon. People are just going to have to adapt, either drive less, or drive more efficient cars, or cut other expenses to compensate for the price of gas.

Drilling domestically isn't the answer, alternative energy is the answer.

Right you are.

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Its not that simple. They have to locate the oil, locate a suitable spot from which to drill, get the rigs in place, it will take years for any oil drilled from new reserves ends up in your gas tank. Thats not going to bring gas prices down anytime soon. People are just going to have to adapt, either drive less, or drive more efficient cars, or cut other expenses to compensate for the price of gas.

Drilling domestically isn't the answer, alternative energy is the answer.

You are wrong. Just take a look at what happened after Bush announced that the ban on drilling would be lifted. Oil prices went down. Just think what would happen if the congress supported him.

I don't think the administration has the balls to fight the congress, which is against drilling until Obama gets elected, and present a "coherent energy" policy to the people. If the administration and the congress stood together on an energy policy and gave the oil companies the permission to start drilling, the price of oil should drop to the $70 to $90 dollar a barrel price.

A Coherent Energy Policy means:

Drilling for oil.

Drilling for natural gas.

Funding tax incentives for wind farms, geothermal, clean coal, solar, non-corn ethanol, bio-diesel and conservation.

Extracting oil from coal, shale and tar sands.

Nuclear power.

The current price of oil is being controlled by the commodities market. Traders bid the price up or down based on information gathered from arround the world. If our government made an announcement about adopting a "new" non partizan energy policy, the price of oil would fall.

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Oil companies can drill in the Gulf of Mexico, they have leases, they're just not doing it. Not that the Gulf is the greatest place, with all the hurricanes and whatnot, but still, they have the option. Allowing offshore drilling in the Atlantic and Pacific *may* get speculators to back off, which *may* stabilize oil prices, but none of that is a given. Gas isn't going to back to pre-Bush levels anytime, no matter how much we drill and where we drill, so the government would be better off encouraging alternative energies instead of promoting potential environmental and aesthetic disaster.

And that may be the first time I have ever heard of anyone saying the Bush administration doesn't have balls.

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A Coherent Energy Policy means:

allowing the best options to work, not favoring anything. if ethanol wants to take oil's place for transportation... than cellulosic would take off.

allowing nuclear recycling would create an industry instead of throwing it under yucca MT, and promoting new plants cause they recycle their "waste".

IF "bush" did have balls he'd try to correct his mistakes (or admit them) these last few months...and ones others have made.

:unitedstates: forever.

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sorry for so many posts..

Trust fund deficit expected

Just three years ago, that trust fund enjoyed a surplus of $10 billion. Even without a tax freeze, the fund is projected to finish 2009 with a deficit of $3 billion. That that could grow as Americans drive less and buy less gas because of higher pump prices

eliminate the ethanol subsidy, and that could be closer to only 500million deficit, or less

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Bush has some balls. You have to admit, screwing things up, then insisting things are fine and screwing more things up while insisting things are fine takes some major balls.

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satty- >>"There are elections every 2 years. "<<

And to think: I was going to say- 'don't bother saying 'vote them out' ; that's not accountability. Congress needs periodic performance reviews during terms, not just the possibility of not getting re-elected every 6 years (senators serve 2-yr terms). It's obviously not enough- the system's rotten.

>>"You cant blame the media, or the government, for the fact that the voters of this country dont pay attention. Would it be better if news outlets ran stories about bills and whatnot instead of sex scandals? Yep. But that would require the politicians not soliciting sex in airport bathrooms, or trying to hook up with pages or whatever else. America is a white-trash nation that is more interested in crap like that than actual politics, and its their own damn fault."<<

Media choses content, and therefore conditions the public in a certain direction. But that direction is 'entertainment', not news & information.... you know; of significance. You CANNOT say the media hasn't played a major role here.

Also, I do not agree with your assessment of America as a white-trash nation, either; like all sorts of sordid sh!t doesn't go on all over the 'civilized' world.

>>"Its not that simple. They have to locate the oil, locate a suitable spot from which to drill, get the rigs in place, it will take years for any oil drilled from new reserves ends up in your gas tank."<<

Democrat sound byte. Oil companies have stated it would take 1-2 years in areas where infrastructure is at least somewhat present, no more than 5 years where there's none and for the outer continental shelf. And since the oil companies are saying 1-2, where did Congress get the oft-quoted figure of "10 years" from, besides the ususal Brown Well of Information ?

This is besides that fact- what does Congress think (hahah: I said "Congress think") energy prices are going to be in 2, 5 or 10 years ? What if drilling had been allowed instead of Clinton banning it -hmmmm- at least 8 years ago- we might still be paying $30/barrel.

>>"Drilling domestically isn't the answer, alternative energy is the answer."<<

Not that I'm against it, because I'm NOT, but how long will alternative energy take to 'get into our gas tanks' ???? Funny how we never hear an estimate there. There is zero infrastructure for most of the alternative suggestions- and only 10 years would be an amazingly short timepsan for any alternative to 'save us'. Still, as a supporter, I say: damned straight - start now, and meanwhile fire up the reactors! But at the same time, drill now, too.

>>"Oil companies can drill in the Gulf of Mexico, they have leases, they're just not doing it."<<

By & large. these leases have either no recoverable oil, or not enough to provide a price reduction. The seemingly automatic assumption here is there's plenty of oil under all the lease sites. Well, who determined that- the government? Oil companies WANT to drill, if they have oil-rich leases but aren't drilling, what exactly would their motive be for not doing so? If your answer is profit- why pay the lease costs at all?

But ask yourself why no new refineries have been permitted to be built since 1976- many analysts say that is the bottleneck to supply, not drilling; existing refineries are running at 98% capacity. If profit were the primary goal, why not dial that back?

>>"Allowing offshore drilling in the Atlantic and Pacific *may* get speculators to back off, which *may* stabilize oil prices, but none of that is a given."<<

There's no givens with any of the alternatives, either. Just heard a piece on the proposed wind farms, in order to be the power grid source, they obviously need fossil fuel back-ups, for those times the wind isn't blowing. Ooops. How often are they going to run in high demand and/or no wind situations?? That's not an alternative, that's a NEW DEMAND for fossil fuels.

Still, the threat of a Gulf storm causes the price of oil to move higher. you don't think actual drilling would get it to move lower??

>>"Gas isn't going to back to pre-Bush levels anytime, no matter how much we drill and where we drill, so the government would be better off encouraging alternative energies..."<<

Do both.

>>"...instead of promoting potential environmental and aesthetic disaster."<<

Technology today is far safer than years ago (notice not a drop of oil spilled during Katrina?), plus directional drilling and outer continental shelf rigs greatly reduces.... ahem... "aesthetic disasters". :rolleyes:

Edited by balthazar
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Bush has some balls. You have to admit, screwing things up, then insisting things are fine and screwing more things up while insisting things are fine takes some major balls.

denial = courage?

Not trying to make commentary on the prez, the situation, or anything, but it just struck me funny...

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And to think: I was going to say- 'don't bother saying 'vote them out' ; that's not accountability. Congress needs periodic performance reviews during terms, not just the possibility of not getting re-elected every 6 years (senators serve 2-yr terms). It's obviously not enough- the system's rotten.

What good is a review? There are polls all the time, Congress knows people think they suck, didnt they have a 70% disapproval rating last week? Your only option, as a voter, is to vote them out or write them to bitch them out for not doing what their constituents want.

Media choses content, and therefore conditions the public in a certain direction. But that direction is 'entertainment', not news & information.... you know; of significance. You CANNOT say the media hasn't played a major role here.

Also, I do not agree with your assessment of America as a white-trash nation, either; like all sorts of sordid sh!t doesn't go on all over the 'civilized' world.

Do you know how easy it is to access congressional voting records? Pretty dang easy, takes as much time as it takes to read about Angelina Jolie's twins or Lindsay Lohan's lesbian affairs. What do most Americans read? The crap. And that it their own fault. And yes, other places are just as bad, that doesn't make it right

Democrat sound byte. Oil companies have stated it would take 1-2 years in areas where infrastructure is at least somewhat present, no more than 5 years where there's none and for the outer continental shelf. And since the oil companies are saying 1-2, where did Congress get the oft-quoted figure of "10 years" from, besides the ususal Brown Well of Information ?

This is besides that fact- what does Congress think (hahah: I said "Congress think") energy prices are going to be in 2, 5 or 10 years ? What if drilling had been allowed instead of Clinton banning it -hmmmm- at least 8 years ago- we might still be paying $30/barrel.

I said years, didn't attach a number. I'm not going to believe what any oil company says, or what Congress says, if I had to guess, I'd say it will come somewhere in between, 3-5 years, depending on circumstances. I also failed earlier to take into account global demand. Who is to say any oil we do get from the coasts wont go to China or India, leaving us with high prices

Not that I'm against it, because I'm NOT, but how long will alternative energy take to 'get into our gas tanks' ???? Funny how we never hear an estimate there. There is zero infrastructure for most of the alternative suggestions- and only 10 years would be an amazingly short timepsan for any alternative to 'save us'. Still, as a supporter, I say: damned straight - start now, and meanwhile fire up the reactors! But at the same time, drill now, too.

Yes, alternatives will take time to get to the masses, but in the long run, we'll all be better off. Look at it like this, the sooner we get off of oil completely, the sooner people who whine about global warming go away.

By & large. these leases have either no recoverable oil, or not enough to provide a price reduction. The seemingly automatic assumption here is there's plenty of oil under all the lease sites. Well, who determined that- the government? Oil companies WANT to drill, if they have oil-rich leases but aren't drilling, what exactly would their motive be for not doing so? If your answer is profit- why pay the lease costs at all?

But ask yourself why no new refineries have been permitted to be built since 1976- many analysts say that is the bottleneck to supply, not drilling; existing refineries are running at 98% capacity. If profit were the primary goal, why not dial that back?

I haven't delved into the existing leases in the Gulf, but what I have heard is that they do have a significant amount of recoverable oil. And that was on Fox, but I'll have to look into it further. And big oil has had friends in high places for a long time, so your guess is as good as mine when it comes to no new refineries. Maybe its a personnel problem, net enough qualified people to build, operate and run them. Maybe its a myriad of regulations. Maybe its an attempt to keep supply down.

There's no givens with any of the alternatives, either. Just heard a piece on the proposed wind farms, in order to be the power grid source, they obviously need fossil fuel back-ups, for those times the wind isn't blowing. Ooops. How often are they going to run in high demand and/or no wind situations?? That's not an alternative, that's a NEW DEMAND for fossil fuels.

Still, the threat of a Gulf storm causes the price of oil to move higher. you don't think actual drilling would get it to move lower??

All sources of power have the potential for problems. Coal is reliable, but it requires a vast transport network. Natural gas is the same way. Solar and wind both run at the whim of Mother Nature. Nuclear has a slight meltdown risk, and a huge waste storage problem. And the prices have many factors, speculators will look at how long it will take, and the possibility of increased demand globally.

Do both.

Drilling for oil only delays the inevitable, eventually oil is going to quit being a viable option, I'd rather see the country prepared for that day

Technology today is far safer than years ago (notice not a drop of oil spilled during Katrina?), plus directional drilling and outer continental shelf rigs greatly reduces.... ahem... "aesthetic disasters". :rolleyes:

The potential is always there for a large spill. Captains of large ships aren't, historically, perfect, I dont want to see what would happen when a Carnival cruise ship hits a rig. Oil rigs visible from the coast would be an eyesore, possibly hurting local economies that rely on tourism.

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>>"What good is a review? There are polls all the time, Congress knows people think they suck, didnt they have a 70% disapproval rating last week? Your only option, as a voter, is to vote them out or write them to bitch them out for not doing what their constituents want."<<

A review in & of itself is empty, but recall I said accountability. I --& without a doubt an ever-increasing portion of the citizenry-- are no longer satisfied with an 'only option' (voting out incumbants). It's NOT working- the system's broken.

>>"Do you know how easy it is to access congressional voting records? Pretty dang easy... What do most Americans read? The crap."<<

Voting records are not the whole picture, and again- it is not accountability. Voting record's access is not tracked like subscriptions are, perhaps they have a wider viewership than anyone thinks. Also, politicians have gotten relatively good at one thing- perfecting obscurity to a high art (ever read the voting questions on ballots? Intentional gibberish.).

>>"I said years, didn't attach a number. "<<

So you didn't.... but drilling 'will take 10 years' is unilaterally trotted out as the primary reason NOT to do it. If valid, then it's just as valid a 'reason' NOT to pursue alternatives, which will easily take longer.... but it's NOT valid.

>>"I'm not going to believe what any oil company says..."<<

Because they're all evil, right?

>>"Drilling for oil only delays the inevitable, eventually oil is going to quit being a viable option, I'd rather see the country prepared for that day"<<

They are not mutually exclusive! Oil companies are not going to switch suddenly to solar power; there are and will be new energy companies that will arise in each segment. Should oil companies shutter their rigs today because they are going to run out somewhere in the future? What about the fantastic sucking sound the $700,000,000,000/yr makes as it tears out of this country to pay for imported oil?? Will there be any investment funds left in the U.S. to see these alternatives thru to viability in the 10-15 years (MY opinion) it'll take to replace oil ??

>>"Oil rigs visible from the coast would be an eyesore, possibly hurting local economies that rely on tourism. "<<

The primary focus for any new rigs are much farther out to sea than the current rigs, these are deep water wells that have already proven to access & pump from very large fields. No effect on tourism. Most existing rigs are not visible from shore, anyway, and no one is looking to place any new ones closer. Invalid.

Edited by balthazar
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balth and satty.... nice conversation, keep it that way. :)

i would think that if we stop threatening Iran, & it's "peaceful nuclear program" that could push oil down $10 in a day.

setting a month to start withdrawal from Iraq if there is "progress" or flat every month till that month would push oil down $10, the end of the year "we" will be occupying iraq by the UN "charter" or treaty, whatever, anyway.

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