Skip to main content
Monday, April 08 2019

There’s simply no logical explanation for President Trump to be flirting with the imposition of a gasoline tax unless it is because he truly doesn’t want to be re-elected in 2020.  And mind you, I think that’s a possibility.

My personal opinion (though I have nothing but my own pedestrian powers of observation to back this up)?  I think Trump ran for attention, was shocked to win the primary, was even more shocked to win the presidency, and has been putting in time ever since.  To me, he honestly seems more interested in using his bully pulpit to jab at enemies and settle scores than he does any kind of agenda.  I think the only thing that makes him want to keep the job is because he doesn’t want to be branded a “loser.” 

Again, I could be wrong about all that, but whenever I am trying to dissect Trump, I will always defer to the simplest and most juvenile explanation because that’s the way I see him: simple and juvenile.  That said, if Trump truly does have an earnest hope to vanquish his 2020 Democrat foe, he will drop this nonsense immediately:

Last week, President Donald Trump’s transportation secretary, Elaine Chao, told senators that a gas tax hike was on the table when asked whether the White House would support such a move.

And this week, Democrats are indicating that they too are ready to consider a tax increase — an effort that would fund publicly popular infrastructure improvements but has hit a hard wall of opposition for years from fiscal conservatives and advocates for low-income people alike.

In case you’re wondering, the last time we had a gas tax hike was when Bill Clinton signed one in 1993.  That was just before one of the most astonishing midterm political takeover elections in history.  Not that the Republican tidal wave was solely due to the gas tax hike, but it certainly helped.  It was after this major faux pas and its resulting loss of Congress that Clinton was able to famously “triangulate” and set up his successful re-election campaign. 

But notice this idiotic proposal to raise taxes on the back of the middle class and working poor (which is precisely and undeniably what a gasoline tax does) is being made in the course of Trump’s re-election bid.  Think about the states Trump unexpectedly carried that were key to his shocking 2016 upset.  Rust Belt, middle class states who had felt economically squeezed by Obama’s foolish progressive politics.  And now Trump publicly toys with imposing a tax that will disproportionately affect those very voters:

Gas taxes are insidiously regressive. They don’t just impose extra costs on those who commute long distances. Over time the raised fuel costs of trucking, delivery, fertilizing, and harvesting flow through to everything. You wake up and every bite of corn flakes is more expensive. Your morning commute is of course more expensive. The tax gets priced into your property tax bill, which goes up to pay the higher fuel bill for the fleet of school buses for public schools. Snowplow services become more expensive. A gas tax like this follows people everywhere.

If he does this, there’s no way Trump wins in 2020.  I don’t doubt that Trump, the man who thinks tariffs are solid economic policy, lacks the sense to know how bad a move this is.  But is there no one in or near the White House that has any political sense whatsoever?  Or is there honestly truth to the rumor that says he knows this will cost him the election and that’s why he’s considering it?

Posted by: Peter Heck AT 09:15 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email