The cheaper gas gets, the more people are calling for an increase in the gas tax, to limit consumption, promote energy independence and fund the development of fuel-efficient vehicles and other energy alternatives. A New York Times editorial mentioned the possibilities of either a variable consumption tax (so the price would never go below $4 or $5 a gallon, say) or a variable tariff on imported oil, to signal to automakers and drivers “that the era of cheap gasoline is not going to last.” “Car Talk” co-host Ray Magliozzi recently called on “all nonwussy politicians” to stand with his proposal for a 50-cent gas-tax increase to fund infrastructure improvements and new energy technology. “The other thing that the gas-tax revenue could fund is high-speed train infrastructure between major cities,” he said. “And who would build all of the new high-tech, high-speed trains we’d need? GM and Ford! We’d help them start a mass-transit division, convert some of those factories from building inefficient gas hogs to building high-speed trains.” The timing certainly makes sense, with some saying that gas is headed below $1 a gallon. But finding “nonwussy politicians” will be a challenge.
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