Regarding the May 18 guest column “Raise federal fuel tax to meet needs” by John M. Smith:
In his column, CRST International Chairman Smith argues that, with the nation’s highway system experiencing critical needs for maintenance and upgrade, we are long overdue for an increase in the federal road fuel tax.
I don’t dispute the need for substantial road work, but don’t agree this is adequate justification for cranking up the tax rate. The fact is, Americans are already up to their necks in taxes of every stripe, shape, color and flavor. Iowans just took it on the chin with an increase in the state fuel tax; presumably similar measures are underway in other states. The nation’s freight haulers will not shoulder this burden; they will simply pass it on to the shippers, resulting in pervasively higher prices for delivered goods to be paid by everyone.
The recent drop in prices at the pump, thanks to brilliant technological innovation, is a blessing we needed 40 years ago when OPEC’s aggressive and opportunistic price manipulations catapulted developed nations into rampant inflation. But with this much-needed relief and boon to the economy the tax and spend advocates already salivate over the windfall.
A superior approach to increasing revenue is to keep the federal talons out of the nation’s economic viscera and let the economy flourish from this much-needed nourishment. The treasury will then reap a much sweeter fruit that will result from the consequent sustained growth.