VA Governor Bob McDonnell Unveils Terrible Plan To Replace Gas Tax With Sales Tax

A blog about business and economics.
Jan. 9 2013 9:24 AM

VA Governor Bob McDonnell Unveils Terrible Plan To Replace Gas Tax With Sales Tax

121972895
MINERAL, VA - AUGUST 24: Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (L) and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) arrive for a tour of the North Anna Power Station, which remains offline after losing offsite power in the wake of yesterday's 5.8 earthquake August 24, 2011 near Mineral, Virginia.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is out this week with the most straightforwardly terrible policy I've heard in a while, replace the state's gasoline tax with higher sales taxes.

I get it. People don't like gas taxes because people buy gas a lot and they'd rather the gas was cheaper. What's more, like all consumption taxes it's a bit regressive. But swapping it out for a higher sales tax doesn't eliminate either problem. If anything, it makes the tax structure even more regressive since the carless minority in the United States is disproportionately composed of poor people. The nice thing about a gas tax is that for all it annoys people, it does have environmental and highway congestion benefits. Higher retail sales taxes have all the annoyance but none of the benefits. The only people who'd win here are oil producers, and it's not like Virginia is a big oil state.

Advertisement

It's hard to know what McDonnell is even thinking here, but I suspect we're witnessing a casualty of energy policy in the United States increasing being subordinated to broader culture war issues. People who dislike abortion, gun control, and marriage equality are also supposed to be enthusiastic about fossil fuels even in totally nonsensical ways.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Cheez-Its. Ritz. Triscuits.

Why all cracker names sound alike.

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Afghan Town With a Legitimately Good Tourism Pitch

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

  News & Politics
Photography
Sept. 21 2014 11:34 PM People’s Climate March in Photos Hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets of NYC in the largest climate rally in history.
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
  Arts
Television
Sept. 21 2014 9:00 PM Attractive People Being Funny While Doing Amusing and Sometimes Romantic Things Don’t dismiss it. Friends was a truly great show.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 21 2014 11:38 PM “Welcome to the War of Tomorrow” How Futurama’s writers depicted asymmetrical warfare.
  Health & Science
The Good Word
Sept. 21 2014 11:44 PM Does This Name Make Me Sound High-Fat? Why it just seems so right to call a cracker “Cheez-It.”
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.