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We should try new methods of raising revenue and fuel efficiency.

I understand that a retail gas tax is a regressive tax. It is also a political hot potato. Nobody wants to be the one to try to raise this tax. It also doesn't completely target the wasteful behavior that we want to modify. Therefore we should try something different.

One idea is to create a market for more fuel efficient cars by basing the annual registration cost on the fuel efficiency of the vehicle.

Set a mpg standard and charge an extra 1-2 hundred dollars per mile under that standard, then increase the standard on some reasonable  timetable like 1 or 2 miles per year. The individual states could experiment with different timetables to get to higher mpg standards

This plan creates an immediate incentive. Most people wouldn't want to pay higher fees and would actively look for more fuel efficient cars. This is different from the cafe goals because those goals could be changed or the timetable could be moved out or the automakers could just say that they can't meet the new standard.

New car buyers would want cars that stayed above the mpg standard and used car buyers would have more cars available closer to the standard. We would also be junking the worst mpg cars at a faster rate.
Of course there would have to be exemptions for various legitimate reasons, but if you wanted to drive that hummer as a status symbol you would just have to pay for wasting fuel.

We could sell this as a wasting resources tax and the only people affected would be the wasters. If we frame more of these increased fees and taxes in a negative way like the "sin" taxes we have on cigarettes and alcohol it would be easier to raise taxes.
Tax the sin not the sinner.

minimal government involvement = maximum market results.

Originally posted to mcgee85 on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 09:54 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (4+ / 0-)

    I don't hit. But I do hit back

    by mcgee85 on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 09:54:16 AM PDT

  •  you'll have to sell that 50+ times (4+ / 0-)

    vehicle registration is not the Federal Government's responsibility.

    (+0.12, -3.33) it's a perfectly cromulent sig line.

    by terrypinder on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 09:56:47 AM PDT

  •  This is a somewhat regressive tax, also. (12+ / 0-)

    Who has the crappy cars, the clunkers built a long time ago, which may have a variety of engine troubles causing low gas mileage?

    Poor people.

    To say my fate is not tied to your fate is like saying, "Your end of the boat is sinking."--Hugh Downs

    by Dar Nirron on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 10:00:34 AM PDT

  •  A 10 mpg car driven 2000 miles a year (7+ / 0-)

    will spew less than a 40 mpg vehicle driven 10,000 miles per year..



    Practicing Law without a License is my 3d favorite Crime.

    by ben masel on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 10:01:09 AM PDT

    •  Granted. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW

      but think how much less we would pollute if the vehicles we drive were much more effecient. Wouldn't this also drive the hybrid markets and alternative fuels.

      I don't hit. But I do hit back

      by mcgee85 on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 10:06:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Driving markets got us into this mess. (0+ / 0-)

        Using alternative fuels is not a net good, just a less bad.

        Steep fuel taxes will push towards, for example, living closer to work or near viable rail.



        Practicing Law without a License is my 3d favorite Crime.

        by ben masel on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 10:38:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Unless you are a farmer... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SciMathGuy, tnproud2b

          ...or someone else who lives out in the country. Not everyone lives in the city, y`know!

          Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

          by JeffW on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 10:45:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  For farmers, steep taxes on fuel push (0+ / 0-)

            towards more fuel efficient farming methods, including on-the-farm produced biofuels and a return to draft animals.



            Practicing Law without a License is my 3d favorite Crime.

            by ben masel on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 11:01:27 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You live in the city? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              SciMathGuy

              Draft animals are a rare breed these days. Just sayin'...

              Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

              by JeffW on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 11:04:32 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  BECAUSE of cheap petro (0+ / 0-)



                Practicing Law without a License is my 3d favorite Crime.

                by ben masel on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 11:42:51 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Heh. I have a draft horse. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                JeffW

                He figgers that "work" isn't in his job description.

                I have a redneck nephew-in-law who told me last year (when gas hit $4 / gallon), "At least you have horses." He never stopped to think about the absolute impracticality of riding to work every day. This isn't the Old West. Where the hell would I "park" a horse in town? Not to mention that nowadays, there are folks around who'd rather not have their co-workers smell like a horse...

                "There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Please use in that order." --- Ed Howdershelt (Author)

                by SciMathGuy on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 12:47:33 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  That's my point... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  SciMathGuy

                  ...you have to recreate a whole infrastructure for using horses as transportation and work power. Who has money to buy farm implements that are horse-drawn? I guess you'd rather starve while the farmers struggle with a switch back to real horse-power, eh?

                  Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

                  by JeffW on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 12:51:59 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Exactly, farmers are in a position to make... (0+ / 0-)

              ... their own fuels like biodiesel.

              Indeed, Rudolf Diesel pushed the idea of farmers making their own fuel as a big advantage of his engine over petrol engines.  Rudolf Diesel disappeared at sea in 1913.  Some suspect assassination by petroleum interests.

              Big Joe Helton: "I pay Plenty."
              Chico Marx: "Well, then we're Plenty Tough."

              by Caelian on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 11:20:20 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Or live in a small/medium sized town (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SciMathGuy

            Mass transit either does not exist or is so lacking in routes/service to be non-existant in many towns.  In Wichita, where I used to live, the buses stopped running at 6 pm and only ran hourly up to that time.  The people with money, who run the town, can afford the expenses.  There is no way they will approve increasing funds for mass transit, so it is the poor that get get squeezed once again.  

            I would love to see an increase in mass transit and fuel efficiencies, but unfortunately in many areas I do not see it happening

            Anybody can make history. Only a great man can write it. Oscar Wilde

            by solotime on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 11:14:56 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Thank you. (0+ / 0-)

            JeffW, I'd send you a dozen eggs if I could. How nice to see that someone remembers small farmers and other rural folks!

            "There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Please use in that order." --- Ed Howdershelt (Author)

            by SciMathGuy on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 12:42:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Japan does this already (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama, shenderson

    Most European countries do as well. At time of annual registration, owners are taxed by vehicle engine size. Efficiency is a hard metric to capture, so it's simplest to just tax the motor. A small 4 cyl will be cheaper than a big V-8.

    Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

    by The Raven on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 10:03:02 AM PDT

      •  Hardly. Look at Denmark. They impose a 180% (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Raven

        tax on the value of a car at the time of initial registration.  They also have some incentives for fuel efficiency but I am unaware of the details.

        And then there are the fuel costs.  Right now gas in Denmark is roughly $7.80/gallon, and the bulk of that goes towards taxes since they can obtain the raw fuel just as cheaply as the US ( or even cheaper due to their relationship to North Sea resources).  In comparison, excise taxes in the US for fuel are extremely wimpy, and the last time Congress considered a pathetic nickel/gallon tax increase, everyone there screamed bloody murder and ran away from the proposal.

        I really think countries like Denmark have it right.  Tax unsustainable behaviors according to the full costs that they are having on society.  Use those taxes to develop sustainable resources (wind) and behaviors (mass transit).  Denmark does have an advantage over the US in that their society is much more egalitarian and less stratified than the US.  However, the US ought to at least consider ramping up the excise taxes slowly over a number of years and invest those taxes in sustainable transport.  This way, impoverished owners of gas guzzlers will eventually be presented with better options and thus able to free themselves of being saddled with the costs of operating their old vehicles.

    •  Yep, same in Korea (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Raven

      It was a pleasant surprise when I got the first tax bill for my little sub-sub-compact Hyundai Atoz.  Almost nothing compared to the big ol' sedan I used to have.  The little cars get a great break on tolls here, too.

      Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration.

      by shenderson on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 10:33:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Kei cars in Japan . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Raven

      "...for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country." George Washington Sept 14 1775

      by indycam on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 11:23:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Things are never simple. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thinkdouble, Wee Mama, kyoders, TXDemJenn

    I'm not opposed to some sort of graduated fee or surcharge system based on efficiency. But there are problems with that too, and every means of raising revenue has inequities. Here's the inequity in this one:

    Efficiency is not really measured simply by how many miles per gallon a car gets. It's measured by how much work the vehicle does per gallon (or other unit of energy).

    So for a single person or a 2-person household, a small hybrid is the most efficient car commercially available today. For a typical family of, say, five, that same car would be very inefficient.

    A large truck is more efficient than a small truck if you need to haul large loads most of the time. Same with a personal vehicle. We need standards that assure that vehicles of all sizes are made as efficient as possible. An SUV is the most efficient vehicle for some uses, and least efficient for others.

    This is not what I thought I'd be when I grew up.

    by itzik shpitzik on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 10:06:39 AM PDT

    •  An SUV is actually almost NEVER the most (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Miggles

      efficient vehicle. In the case you cited, a large family, a small minivan or wagon is almost always more efficient. The high profile of the SUV is only useful if you often drive on rough dirt roads. Otherwise it's a wasteful fashion statement.

      ...we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.
      -- Pres. Barack H. Obama, Jan. 20, 2009

      by davewill on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 10:28:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Correct (I drive on rough dirt roads though.) (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JeffW

        Although we're a Subaru household because the kids are gone. We need 4WD.

        I was speaking mostly of vehicles being sized right. Where I live, 4WD is a real advantage or a necessity for some people.

        Plus at this point, they're making SUV hybrids but not minivan hybrids, and the SUV hybrids get a few mpg better than a Subaru Legacy sedan!

        This is not what I thought I'd be when I grew up.

        by itzik shpitzik on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 10:39:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  how about a combination of factors (0+ / 0-)

    making the fee based on the book value of the vehicle plus mileage

    In MA where I used to live there was a local excise annual tax on the book value of the car based on its age.

    Taxes based on combinations of factors are often the best way to go.

    But we should still increase the gas tax too to take into account how much gas people actually use.  

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