Gas Taxes in the States:
Tennessee legislators recently agreed to raise gas taxes by six cents on gasoline and 10 cents on diesel fuel over the course of the next three years. Republican Governor Haslam proposed the bill, called the IMPROVE act,. The IMPROVE act spent a surprisingly little amount of time in the hands of lawmakers and was signed into law on April 19, 2017 by Gov Haslam. This will be the first Tennessee gas tax increase since the 1980s. The Tennessee government plans to make cuts in sales taxes, particularly on goods bought in grocery stores, to make up the differences.
The gas tax increase was wildly unpopular with local Tennessee Republicans and Tea Party members. They argued that the raise was completely unnecessary, since the state generated a nearly 2 billion dollar surplus with the current tax rate. As a general rule, Republicans and Conservatives are against increases in taxes, which is why the rapid proposal and ratifying of the IMPROVE act by a Republican legislation was so surprising.
Gas Tax on a National Level:
It appears Tennesseans may not be the only ones facing an increase in gas taxes. President Donald Trump recently stated in an interview with Bloomberg that he would “certainly consider” raising the gas tax if “we earmarked money toward highways.” This statement continues reinforcing Trump’s support of increasing infrastructure spending. The last time federal gas tax increased was in 1993.
As of right now, Trump’s current tax reform proposal does not mention an increase in gas taxes. However, the president can still amend the proposal in efforts to revise or compromise with opponents in Congress. There would likely cause adverse effects on the average American family and individual, should the gas tax hike be added.
According to a study conducted by the Heritage Foundation in 2004, an increased gas tax would cost families on average 54$ per year. This increase could be especially damaging to low-income families. Furthermore, the study suggests that the tax would “hurt consumers and slow the economy.”
What Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Says About His Conservatism:
A fair amount of Trump’s supporters are conservatives. However, there’s nothing less conservative than implementing a higher tax rate for the purpose of increasing infrastructure spending. Objectively speaking, both of these things go against the principles of conservatism. They do, however, fit in with Trump’s unique brand of Trumpism.
Trumpism works as a blend of European Nationalism and Populism, and is fairly consistent with big government policies. Why should an individual in Wyoming pay a higher tax rate to help maintain the an interstate in New York? A conservative would argue that they shouldn’t, because infrastructure spending should be handled on a state-to-state basis.
Economically speaking, Trump has a history of supporting government involvement. He supported Obama’s 2008 auto bailout. He supported Kelo v. New London. He even supported Obama’s 2009 TARP stimulus program. You can make an argument for or against each of these instances, but it is simply a matter of fact that none of these positions are conservative. Despite his appointment of Neil Gorsuch and his promises to introduce comprehensive tax reform, Donald Trump has done little else in his first 100 days to secure his position and legacy as a truly conservative President.