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Six Liberal Governors Ask Lawmakers To Suspend Federal Gas Tax

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Six left-leaning governors, five of whom are up for reelection in November, have called on the Biden administration to temporarily pause the federal gas tax as prices at the pump reach their highest levels in years.

They are: Jared Polis of Colorado, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, Tim Waltz of Minnesota, Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, and Tony Evers of Wisconsin, all Democrats.

“At a time when people are directly impacted by rising prices on everyday goods, a federal gas tax holiday is a tool in the toolbox to reduce costs for Americans, and we urge you to give every consideration to this proposed legislation,” the governors wrote last week in a letter to House and Senate leadership, The Daily Wire reports.

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Last month, some Democratic senators introduced the Gas Tax Relief Act, which called for a suspension of the collection of the federal gas tax, which is roughly 18.3 cents per gallon, until Jan. 2, 2023, but no action has been scheduled on the legislation yet. The federal gas tax hasn’t been raised since October 1993.

That said, the half-dozen Democrat governors have also not done anything to relieve the cost of a gallon of gas on their own citizens.

According to the Federation of Tax Administrators, Pennsylvania tacks on 57.6 cents per gallon — the highest state gas tax in the US. Wisconsin adds 30.9 cents per gallon to pump prices, Minnesota has a 28.5-cent-per-gallon tax, Michigan’s gas tax stands at 27.2 cents per gallon, Colorado adds 22 cents to every gallon, and New Mexico adds 17 cents,” the New York Post reported.

Wolf is the only governor not facing reelection this year because he is term-limited.

At the same time, two Republican governors have actually taken action to lower gas prices in their states: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. Each of them signed legislation on Friday to temporarily suspend the state-level gas tax.

The Maryland law suspends that state’s 38.6 cents per gallon tax for 30 days, while the Georgia measure suspends The Peach State’s 27.9 cents per gallon tax through May 31.

“This bipartisan action will provide some relief from the pain at the pump and it is possible because of the prudent fiscal steps we have taken, which have resulted in a record budget surplus,” Hogan said in announcing the legislation.

“This is, of course, not a cure-all, and market instability will continue to lead to fluctuations in prices, but we will continue to use every tool at our disposal to provide relief for Marylanders,” he added.

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Kemp announced the legislation in a video posted to Twitter on Friday.

“The average price of a gallon of gas has increased from $2.69 to $4.28 since March of 2021, a 59% increase, and researchers are now estimating that the average American household could spend an average of $2,000 more per year because of increased fuel cost and sky-high inflation,” he said.

“While some of the more recent price hikes are due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Georgians also know that Washington, D.C., policies and politics were driving inflation to record highs well before Putin’s despicable actions,” he noted further.

Congressional Democrats’s= solution to high gas prices, brought on steadily over the president’s first year in office thanks to policies seen as hostile to the fossil fuel industry, is to punish oil companies and spend hundreds of billions more dollars issuing Americans gas-related stimulus checks.

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“An in-depth look at the proposed plans, alongside common sense, would lead one to believe that the White House’s plans, serious or otherwise, would cause more inflation and higher gas prices,” The Daily Wire noted.

On Saturday, Axios reported that the “White House considered giving Americans gas cards to help offset high prices, but faced strong opposition from congressional committees, which questioned the plan’s viability and effectiveness.”

According to the outlet, a Democratic caucus explained why the plan was is not a good idea:

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  • It would be expensive and poorly targeted.
  • It could worsen inflation and wouldn’t do much to lower costs.
  • Delivering the cards would be a slow process that could bog down the IRS in the middle of the filing season, potentially delaying people’s tax returns.

Instead, Democrats in Congress are looking at other measures:

  • Other ideas being discussed include stimulus checks, using more ethanol to lower the demand for oil, and canceling oil companies’ federal leases that aren’t actively being used, the senior Democratic aide told Axios.
  • Various Democrats have also already introduced bills that would suspend the federal gas tax; raise taxes on oil companies to fund means-tested assistance; or provide a federal rebate whenever gas prices get above $4 per gallon.

Adding hundreds of billions more dollars to an economy already beset by record-high inflation would only worse the problem, some economists have argued.

“Government spending has been a clear factor behind rising consumer prices, though it’s not the only one,” the AP noted on Tuesday. “Biden last year signed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package known as the American Rescue Plan — and many economists say that caused inflation to run higher than it otherwise would.”

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