Some call for temporarily suspending federal gas tax
CHICAGO - President Joe Biden and others blame the war in Ukraine for soaring gasoline prices.
The pain it’s causing US drivers has prompted calls for Congress to temporarily suspend the federal tax on gasoline. It’s 18.3 cents a gallon. The US Transportation Department says it costs a typical American driver $100 a year.
But skepticism that suspending it would help much can be found on both sides of America’s political divide.
"Listen, I'm all for lower taxes," said Phil Flynn, Senior Market Analyst at Price Futures Group. "There's a lot of ways to do it. But I think, in this case, it's just a gimmick."
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Flynn says America needs new incentives for domestic producers to pump more oil, not what he calls temporary tax cut "Band-Aids."
Renewable energy advocates argue America must quit its addiction to oil in the long run with new incentives for wind and solar power. In the short run, their solution is to cut back.
"We're gonna need to be looking at ways that we could be using less (energy) right now, driving less. What are the ways that we can be reducing the amount of energy we're using?" said Jen Walling, Executive Director of the Illinois Environmental Council.
Flynn calls that unrealistic.
"I think the problem is there's many people in the Democratic Party who see energy companies as the enemy, not Vladimir Putin," he said.
Both sides agree that suspending the motor fuel tax could worsen gasoline shortages, by encouraging drivers to use more.
"We ought to be looking at ways that we can be not using as much gas right now. One of the things we can do is … not driving our vehicles. A lot of people having the option to work from home right now. That's been great," said Walling. "Make sure were using public transit again."