Do Amercians Support a Gas Tax?

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Here’s something that is a bit of a surprise: While most Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to a higher federal gasoline tax, their views change if the tax were to be earmarked for specific ends: 

"A significant number would go along with an increase if it reduced global warming or made the United States less dependent on foreign oil, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

The nationwide telephone poll, conducted Wednesday through Sunday, suggested that a gasoline tax increase that brought measurable results would be acceptable to a majority of Americans.

Neither the Bush administration nor Democratic Party leaders make that distinction. Both are opposed to increasing the gasoline tax as a means of discouraging consumption, although President Bush, in recent speeches, has called for the development of alternative energy to reduce dependence on foreign oil."

This is more than a classic example of how a question is phrased that generates a different answer; This is a polling question addressing a specifically different issue beyond the gas tax question. It is in part a referendum question on faith in Congress on spending and priorities.

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Click for larger graphic   

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Courtesy of NYT
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No suprise that the Dismal set disagree:

"Many mainstream economists believe that a shift that raises the gasoline tax while lowering income-based taxes is the most efficient way to reduce consumption. It might require a $1-a-gallon increase in the tax phased in over five years, said Severin Borenstein, director of an energy institute at the University of California, Berkeley."

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Source:
Americans Are Cautiously Open to Gas Tax Rise, Poll Shows
LOUIS UCHITELLE and MEGAN THEE
NYT, February 28, 2006
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/28/national/28gas.html

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