Policy experts warn that we can’t rule out the possibility that gasoline taxes are going up.
Greg Valliere, chief political strategist at Potomac Research Group, sent out a note today that included this about how low oil prices have affected the current climate in Washington:
Chances it could persuade Congress to consider a gasoline tax hike: 25% and rising, still a long-shot but not totally out of the question. Chances the plunge has lessened support for the Keystone pipeline: 70%, the Obama veto should prevail. Chances that some speculators or hedge funds — or countries — could go belly-up because of the oil collapse: 30%, the great wild card of 2015.
However, there’s no consensus on this.
Michael Levi of the Council of Foreign Relations spoke to Business Insider earlier this week and suggested that falling prices might make US policymakers are actually less likely to make energy policy meant to reduce consumption (like raising taxes or making fuel economy standards more stringent), because there’s less pressure from constituents when gas is cheap.
It’s clear that the Senate is talking about it, but unclear that there’s actually going to be any action, according to a Reuters report from yesterday:
Republican Senator Jim Inhofe, the new chairman of the Senate Environment Committee, said on Wednesday a gasoline tax, or “user fee,” as he prefers to call it, was one of the measures “on the table” as his panel works on a new transportation bill this year.
But Inhofe stopped short of supporting such a fee. He said it was unlikely the measure could gain enough support for the Senate to pass it soon.
Conclusion: the odds of gas taxes going up are still not great, but decent enough to talk about.
Here’s a look at how much gasoline prices have come down amid the oil price crash.