Crude oil prices have fallen even further on world markets, with the price of a barrel of crude hitting its lowest point in six years on Tuesday. And according to Reuters, traders expect to see more price declines in the weeks and months ahead.
The downward pressure is so great that even record Chinese crude imports for December – as the world’s second-largest oil consumer took advantage of low prices to build reserves – could not lift the market for long.
Oil prices have fallen 60 percent from their June 2014 peaks, driven down by rising production, particularly U.S. shale oil, and weaker-than-expected demand in Europe and Asia.
Dramatically lower oil prices have translated to significantly lower gasoline prices for U.S. motorists. In many cities, drivers can fill their tanks for less than $2 a gallon.
But as consumers celebrate the savings at the pump, lawmakers in Washington now appear to be licking their chops over the prospect of being able to raise the federal gas tax at a time when the hit to taxpayers’ pocketbooks won’t seem so big.
As the chief economist for the Heritage Foundation, Stephen Moore, writes in the Washington Times, “As prices keep falling, the politicians and the moochers in Washington want a piece of the action.”
Leading the D.C. charge to pump up the federal levy on each gallon of gas, writes Moore, are top Democrats Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Dick Durbin, as well as GOP Sen. Bob Corker. These three lawmakers have “…linked arms with the entire road-building industry and green groups that want the cost of fuel to go up.”
Moore points out that these are the same politicians who say they want to do everything possible to “help the middle class.”
The author also notes that raising the gas tax will take billions out of the pockets of consumers, middle class and otherwise.
Every penny rise in the gas tax will take about $1 billion out of the wallets of consumers. A 10- or 20-cent gas tax will take $10-$20 billion from consumers.
And could it be that one big reason for Nancy Pelosi’s passion for higher gas taxes is the fact that her state of California has decided to move forward with the astronomically expensive high-speed rail line — the so-called “bullet train” between Los Angeles and San Francisco?
Again, via washingtontimes.com:
Don’t be surprised if gas tax hike dollars help fund California’s $70 billion high-speed rail white elephant. The program has been so riddled with cost overruns, it may go down in history as one of the most absurd transportation projects ever.