Gas prices too high? That just means we aren’t paying enough taxes on them. At least that’s what CNN’s Miles O’Brien suggested.
There "could be a good argument for a gas tax in all of this to help pay for these alternative fuels," the "American Morning" co-host suggested on the April 25 program.
"We have enough gas taxes, don’t you think," reporter Carol Costello fired back.
"Well, maybe we could have more," O’Brien blithely replied.
Every American motorist already pays 18 cents on the gallon to Uncle Sam and anywhere from 8 to 45 cents per gallon to state governments, according to figures compiled by the American Petroleum Institute. In fact, the Energy Department estimates taxes account for 19 percent of the price of a gallon of gasoline, nearly as much as the 22 percent of the price that goes to refining costs.
O’Brien was reacting to a report showing purchases of gasoline-inefficient vehicles are as popular as ever with consumers.
"According to the Power Information Network, in January, February, and March, Americans bought big, huge cars at the same rate they did before. Eight-cylinder cars that take a lot of gas to run," Costello noted, adding that gas prices have had only a short-term impact on how much people travel.
Costello suggested that blaming President Bush or oil companies ignores the heavy consumer demand that drives up gas prices.
"While we may drive less in the short term, it’s always the short term, because 1.5 percent were driving 1.5 percent more than we did last year, so really consumers aren’t doing their part," to keep gas prices down, Costello argued, citing a recent survey.