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Gas Tax

‘Gas Tax’ Sounding Like a Four-Letter Word to the White House and Senate

9:02 AM PDT on April 16, 2010

Transportation groups of all shapes and sizes have been concerned that the Senate's forthcoming climate bill could set back the prospects for a federal transportation measure by imposing extra carbon fees
on Big Oil -- which would then be passed on to customers at the pump,
effectively increasing the gas tax for purposes other than funding new
infrastructure projects.

050217_lindseyGraham_hmed_4p.hmedium.jpgSen.
Lindsey Graham (R-SC) joined the White House in denying that his
forthcoming climate bill would feature a "gas tax." (Photo: MSNBC)

But it looks like there's no need to worry. The Obama administration yesterday gave a statement to the Wall Street Journal
that sought to lock down any attempt to associate the Senate climate
plan with higher fuel charges: “The Senators don’t support a gas tax,
and neither does the White House."

A spokesman for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the climate
proposal's sole GOP sponsor, also denied that the bill would include a
gas tax. The bulk of the back-and-forth is a semantic battle that
reflects how politically poisonous a gas tax increase remains for both
parties in Washington.

But it may also suggest that Graham
and his co-authors are moving away from the carbon fee they had
originally conceived. Graham described the idea to The Hill
last month as "an assessment on what they do in the carbon world. They
are creating a carbon product, they are going to pay a fee." The cost
of such a fee, he added at the time, would be partially passed on to
customers at the pump.

On the whole, the fact that the
White House is already denying the existence of a gas tax more than a
week before the climate bill is set to emerge may not bode well for its
future (not to mention that of the still-stalled six-year transportation legislation).

"So Much For Kerry-Graham-Lieberman Global Warming Gas Tax?" the press office of Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) tweeted.

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