In a recent effort to pander to voters of both parties, two of the presidential candidates offered a plan to suspend collecting the federal gas tax during the summer months. Whether you think this is a good idea or not, it probably is not going to happen. Will it not happen because of inaction due to Congress? Will the senators quit pushing for this idea, if people lose interest in it? Or is this such a bad idea on its own that it will die on the vine?
About a year ago after recent surges in the price of gasoline, some states offered to suspend the state excise tax on gasoline. Wisconsin was not one of them. This of course is because Governor Jim Doyle will not put any effort into lowering taxes in Wisconsin. Even if the states stopped collecting the tax, I believe people would be shocked by the amount that they would no longer be paying. Even if it were for a short time. But Wisconsin film never offer a tax holiday. There are probably some tax-and-spend liberals will believe that we are currently in a tax holiday, because we did not raise taxes when we had the opportunities every time. We could be paying a high hospital tax. We could be paying higher excise taxes on liquor and cigarettes. The sales tax would also be higher if some of the election results had been different in the past few local elections.
When former Governor Lee Dreyfus passed away recently there was practically a beatification of the good times when he took over as the governor of Wisconsin. During the summer of 1979, he suspended the income tax withholding at the state level in order to reduce the surplus that the state had at the time. Although that was a roaring success, a couple years later when the state was broke, he put forth an effort to raise the sales tax from 4% to 5%. This of course was done as a temporary measure. But after turning the state surplus into a deficit, Dreyfus did not seek a second term. When Tony Earl, his successor came into office, one of the first things he did was to make the sales tax increase permanent. This of course validates the theory that there is nothing so permanent as a temporary tax.
The state transportation fund has historically been one area of the budget that continually produces surpluses. Citizens would think that this would be a good idea, because the money for this fund would go to improving the roads and highways. And all drivers know that no matter how much road construction goes on during the summer, the roads still tend to be in poor shape. The transportation fund is always raided to cover the shortfalls allocated in other areas of the budget. So now we have the condition of a state deficit, along with poor roads. This was after a huge increase in the registration trust fee. It doesn't make sense, but then again, it's not supposed to, it's Wisconsin government.
As the gas price reaches four dollars a gallon, we will not have any short-term relief. The two presidential candidates will be able to tout all summer, that they tried to get relief for the American citizens. It will be the do-nothing Congress that they are members of that will get the responsibility placed on them for doing nothing to help the citizens of this country. All the members of the House of Representatives will be asking for your vote yet dodging this issue. One third of the United States Senate will follow suit. One presidential candidate, the candidate of change, the candidate of hope, the candidate of new ideas, opts to keep things the way they are. He offers no relief or ideas on how to help the citizens of this country in this time of economic crisis. The other two will at least say that they have tried. Yes, they tried, but so did Napoleon at Waterloo.