The tax-and-spend crowd in Congress is at it again, trying to pass new taxes that would raise energy prices and further deplete already overstretched family budgets. When are they going to understand that seniors, retirees, the unemployed, working class families and the many other Americans who are counting every penny these days simply can no longer afford to pay for their pet projects?
Democratic Senator Max Baucus of Montana wants to hike an oil spill liability fund tax from 8 cents a barrel to 78 cents — an almost tenfold increase. Like a number of other liberal politicians, he apparently thinks that the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico this summer gives him carte blanche to raise taxes on U.S. oil and natural gas producers.
But the reality is consumers have had enough of Washington games and spin. Everyone who drives a car or heats their home understands that any new tax on oil is ultimately a new tax on them. Maybe Sen. Baucus believes the money they’re taking out of our pockets will come in small enough individual increments that no one will notice. For instance, this liability fund tax increase is estimated to raise oil and gas prices by about two cents per gallon. That doesn’t sound like much, right?
But it adds up to another huge drain on the finances of U.S. seniors, young families and people living on fixed incomes. “Just” two cents per gallon amounts to $3 billion in new taxes next year; and overall, this tax would end up costing American’s $31.4 billion over the next 10 years. That’s money most Americans could find a much better use for than funding yet more government spending.
This is the worst kind of tax, too — a regressive tax hike that would most heavily impact those on fixed budgets who can afford it the least.
What do Sen. Baucus and his supporters want to do with the money? A lot of it would go to extend government tax breaks for “green” energy projects. More market-skewing subsidies for technologies that can’t survive without a government handout.
In other words, Congress feels that they’re better qualified than American consumers to decide what kind of fuel we put in our tanks. It doesn’t matter to them if you’ve worked all your life, built a business, raised a family — they believe the government knows more than you do about how your money should be spent. So hand over your money and let them choose.
Congress could not have picked a worse time to increase the tax burden on productive U.S. companies and American consumers. Our national unemployment rate is still unacceptably high, retirees and families are still losing their homes to foreclosure and watching their investments rise and sink with the winds of political uncertainty.
Yet politicians are asking us for more money to spend on experimental energy schemes. Let’s pledge not to forget these proposals this November, when politicians are going to be asking for our votes, in addition to our money. If they don’t see the light, their days of riding high on our tax dollars may be at an end.
Mr. Martin is Chairman of the 60 Plus Association, formed in 1992 as a non-partisan seniors’ advocacy group with a free-enterprise, limited government, lower taxes mission and a strict adherence to the Constitution. www.60plus.org.