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

Moneybox
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

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

Where Ebola Lives Between Outbreaks

Gunman Killed Inside Canadian Parliament; Soldier Shot at National Monument Dies

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Paul Farmer: Up to 90 Percent of Ebola Patients Should Survive

Is he right?

Science

“I’m Not a Scientist” Is No Excuse

Politicians brag about their ignorance while making ignorant decisions.

Politics

The Right to Run

If you can vote, you should be able to run for public office—any office.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea 

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 22 2014 2:05 PM Paul Farmer Says Up to Ninety Percent of Those Infected Should Survive Ebola. Is He Right?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 22 2014 4:10 PM Skinny Mark Wahlberg Goes for an Oscar: The First Trailer for The Gambler
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.