Your editorial makes some excellent points in favor of a much needed increase in gasoline taxes. To be meaningful, this tax increase should be an immediate 20 cents per gallon, followed by a 20-cent increase for each of the next four years, for a total of $1 per gallon.
In 1991 the U.S. ran up a merchandise trade deficit of $66 billion--$44 billion of it in oil. Higher gas taxes will eliminate much of that deficit via competitiveness vis-a-vis our global competitors.
Furthermore, the gas tax increase will dovetail with recently enacted legislation that encourages mass transit and locally mandated reductions in single car commuting.
The argument that a raised gas tax will primarily hurt low- and medium-income Americans is somewhat overstated. The lowest income Americans can't afford cars, and would actually benefit from higher gas taxes to the extent they will result in improved public transportation. For most other Americans, the additional cost can be offset by benign adjustments in lifestyle: greater use of the more fuel efficient cars in multi-car families, walking or riding a bike to the corner store, combining errands, car-pooling, etc. The ancillary benefits of such changes are obvious.
PAUL W. ROSENBERGER