GM CEO: “We Ought to Just Slap a Dollar Tax on a Gallon of Gas”

Well, it’s unanimous – everyone agrees the country needs a significant hike in the gas tax. Everyone outside of Congress, that is. Last week, General Motors CEO Dan Akerson told The Detroit News that a higher gas tax would help solidify the market for more fuel-efficient cars.

GW CEO Dan Akerson wants the gas tax raised. Photo: ##http://www.thedetroitbureau.com/##The Detroit Bureau##

Akerson told The Detroit News that, rather than have the government incrementally increase fuel efficiency standards over the next several years, “You know what I’d rather have them do — this will make my Republican friends puke — as gas is going to go down here now, we ought to just slap a 50-cent or a dollar tax on a gallon of gas.”

“People will start buying more Cruzes and they will start buying less Suburbans,” he said.

Akerson isn’t the first representative of a major U.S. automaker to come out in favor of a higher gas tax. Two years ago, as the automakers were being rescued from collapse by the U.S. government, Bill Ford, CEO of Ford, complained that demand shifted with gas prices.
“As a manufacturer, we don’t like that,” Ford said at a business conference. “Our ability to forecast has been just horrible,” said Ford. “If gas prices are gyrating wildly, we have no idea whether we’re planning right. We’d much rather have a fairly predictable level to shoot for in gas prices. That’s why I think a gas tax would work for us.”

Chrysler’s response to high gas prices in 2008 was quite the opposite – the company offered a guarantee of $3/gallon gas for three years for car buyers. Lee Iacocca championed a hike in the late eighties, before the last gas tax increase, but the company isn’t on record currently as supporting a raise.

The construction industry is a vocal supporter of an increase, since low revenues have hamstrung new development. Indeed, it’s hard to find anyone outside of Washington these days that doesn’t see the obvious need to raise the gas tax, which hasn’t been increased since 1993, when gas was just over a dollar a gallon.

  • The end of oil isn’t going to end everything. But it certainly is going to end life as we know it.

  • As far as government goes… when you examine it for any length of time you realize it’s pretty much the whore of big business and the ruling elite. All my friends and fellow progressives who voted for Obama hoping he’d fix everything are now bitterly disappointed. And that’s because he can’t be the number one functionary for the US ruling class without protecting their interests which, as so often is the case, are in pretty much direct opposition to everyone elses.

    People are lied to by those same ruling elite so they don’t know how bad the situation really is. Ask anyone if they know about peak oil. I’ll bet not one in a hundred has even heard of it. And yet it’s a HUGE problem, and one that has no solution right now. Many people still deny global climate change, or even the validity of evolution, even in the face of overwhelming evidence, because they don’t *want* to believe. And that brings me to the second problem with the way people have been trained in our society: to be almost completely selfish.

    It’s not that people are bad. It’s that, when you get down to it, the way society works right now you really do have to look out for number one. Even though we rely on each other so much, even for basic things – who grew your food, who built your home, who runs the sewage system. The people you trust won’t run you over and steal your shit as your’re crossing the street. But, as of right now, if you tell people “You can spend more money buying a hybrid car, or expend more effort biking to work, and slow down global warming. Or you can buy a car and fill it up with all this cheap gas, and pump more carbon into the environment, leading to extreme weather that will kill people and destroy food crops and cause starvation” what will people usually choose to do? They do the same thing when confronted with an easy choice or a hard one, a cheap alternative or an expensive one – they’ll choose what’s cheap and easy for *them* and leave it to others to pay the piper.

    More and more people need to get pissed off about how the ruling elite and, to a lesser extent, we ourselves are wrecking the environment and mindlessly wasting our remaining fossil fuel reserves. This is already starting to happen – spiking gas prices and a faltering economy and food riots all around the world. And these are only going to get worse as we start running out. As the energy crisis sharpens and the economy grinds to a halt and people start starving to because there’s no petroleum based fertilizers or gas to run the machines, expect to see the government crack down on it’s own suffering people. We need to understand what’s the actual cause of that suffering and put our heads together to think of the solution and work together. You’re not going to be able to ride this out by yourself.

    But in the meantime, while most people are still learning what’s what, we need to save them from themselves. People didn’t used to know that tiny little invisible animals called “bacteria” caused diseases and you had to wash your hands before eating and refrain from pooping near water sources. The government had to step in with laws for sewage and water and hospital procedures. We have to do the same again. As people ask “But WHY do I have to use less gas? WHY do we have to retrofit our suburbs so they aren’t car dependent? WHY can’t I have a huge McMansion?” we need to use that as a teaching moment and wake them up to the precipice we’re all standing on.

  • carma

    i voted for obama and dissapointed b.c he turns out to be too much of a big spender.  why are we in such big debt?  forget about oil.  we sold our future to china.  better start to brush up on that mandarin chinese.

    and regarding “oh those poor starving folks in …”  they are not caused by the big ol tyrant oil companies and US.  they are caused by tyrant warlords in their own part of the world.  so you cant blame our economy and our habits for their own problems.

    heh, im a firm believer in global warming or climate change or whatever the hell the new terminology is.  yes, many doubt it.  but you gotta be blind not to see the world is changing.  and not in a good way.  i mean, when i was in alaska a few weeks ago.  it was 80 freaking degrees.  the glaciers that i wanted to see were gone.  in the arctic, we see shrinking ice sheets everyday.  yes, there is natural global warming.  but nothing kills the planet like tons of spewing co2 and other crap we emit out.  sarah palin can deny all she want, but her state is melting before her very eyes.

    and you cant deny the fact that oil will reach even higher peaks.  but i stand by my point that taxing now is simply exacerbating the problem.  in 5 years from now, $7.50 per gallon WILL be a norm.  and thats w/o extra taxes.  so why advocate for something that will happen inevitably.

    and btw: a hybrid car is no more expensive than most “normal” similar cars.
    lets take the favorite prius as example.  around 20k.  offers similar room compared to a chevy malibu.  drives like a normal car.  gets superior gas mileage.

  • Anonymous

    The gas “tax” we have is outdated and doesn’t come close to paying for the infrastructure required to move cars, let alone oil wars.  Gas prices are artificially low in the US, oil companies enjoy tax breaks and subsidies, protectionist policies, and almost a monopoly.  The S & L mortgage crash had lots to do with spiking gas prices as residents who bought cheaper, bigger houses long distances from their work realized that driving was becoming unaffordable, thus making their real estate investment less desirable, etc.  This was a good thing as it woke many people up to their unsustainable lifestyle choices and made them seek more realistic, closer in neighborhoods.  The house of cards called cheap gas has to end.  The CEO is right, although he probably wants all that extra revenue spent on highway expansion. It needs to be spent on correcting our development mistakes and giving people transportation choices. 

  • carma

    false false false.  gas prices had nothing to do w/ the s&l mortgage crisis. i hate the fact that everybody blames everything on gas prices being low here.

    the last recession was NOT caused by gas prices.  in fact, the gas price hike in 2008/2009 came in after the recession already started.

    the so called mortgage crisis had to do w/ the fact that lenders in which over 50% were freddie and fannie overlent to folks who could NOT afford a home, but under the assumption that a homes value would rise infinitely.  freddie and fannie aka the  Government also in conjunction w/ the scumbag ceo’s decided that how wonderful it would be to combine the “risky” mortgages to create a product called a MBS in which these products were sold to institutions all around.  that deck of cards that fell is not caused by gas prices, but by the false pretense that house prices will rise forever.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subprime_mortgage_crisis

    signs of failure started happening in 2007. FAR BEFORE your gas increase.

    part of the fault can be linked to george w bush who gloated on america having the highest % home ownership and allowing easy credit for these folks who never should have owned a home.  look, everybody deserves to have a place to live.  but not everybody deserves to own a home.  especially when most of these folks had ARM’s that were extremely deceptive.

    so, stop linking “low” gas prices to the cause of the recession when gas prices rose.

    and btw: gas prices rose, b/c of traders.  specifically goldman sachs which announced that oil will reach 150.  and thats when the last spike hit.
      

  • Carma, you’re missing my point. I didn’t say oil companies are somehow making people starve. I said that, because of the change in the earth climate (extreme weather like hurricanes and tornadoes and floods in some places, drought in many others) we’re in the middle of a a global food prices. This means that the billions of poor people around the world who already live at the very edge of starvation are being pushed right over the edge. This is causing food riots in countries around the world.
     
    If you good “global climate change food crisis” you’ll see page after page of hits. Here’s an excerpt from a Paul Krugman piece:

     
    “We’re in the midst of a global food crisis — the second in three years. World food prices hit a record in January, driven by huge increases in the prices of wheat, corn, sugar and oils. These soaring prices have had only a modest effect on U.S. inflation, which is still low by historical standards, but they’re having a brutal impact on the world’s poor, who spend much if not most of their income on basic foodstuffs.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/07/opinion/07krugman.html
     
    This was written in February. Analysts, including Krugman, believe that the food crisis played a major role in kicking off the riots and protests around the middle east. This is just the beginning of how the intersection of oil, and the climate change our overuse of oil has created, is going to play out.

  • carma

    no, im not missing your point.
    there is no intersection here.  food riots of other parts are controlled by warlords long before any major impact of oil and pollution.  corrupt government in most of these impoverished african nations cause food riots.  these countries have had problems for most of the 20th century long before any impact on the climate.

    you are connecting the dots.  but unfortunately the wrong dots.

    Why do you have to pick an excerpt from Paul Krugman.  He’s as liberal as they come.  Can you choose an excerpt from someone more independent?  No, b/c you are a liberal yourself.

  • Joe R.

    Actually the assumption that home prices would continue to rise at ridiculous percentages each year was only part of the reason for the S&L crisis.  CDOs(collaterilized debt obligations) played a huge part.  Banks knowingly made bad loanss, but neatly sold off the bad debt in bundles to investors on the theory that this would spread out the risk.  The flawed theory was even if one or two out of 100 mortgages in the bundle defaulted, the CDO would still give a decent return.  And in theory they might have been right, if 98 out of 100 mortgages had a solid footing in reality.  However, CDOs were basically half or more questionable loans.  You can repackage sh*t, wrap it in pretty paper and hide the smell, but it’s still sh*t.  Even worse, you had people “insuring” these CDOs for a small amount of money (the term is credit default swap).  At first, the issuers of credit default swaps thought they had a racket going.  They were raking in dough but figuring the likelihood of ever covering bad debt was minute.  Well, when those bad loans started going belly up that’s when the problems started.  Some had been covered by multiple CDSs.  In effect, there was now suddenly trillions which had to be paid out in order to honer these credit default swaps.  That’s a simplified version of what caused the S&L crisis.

  • carma

    joe, 
    im very well aware of the stupidity of our banks.  i blame the ceo’s trying to save their own hives in response anytime their stocks dip.
    i work in this damn industry.

  • You know what? Whatever. I give up. Nothing can possibly break through the rigid, ideological rhetoric you’ve clogged your brain with. You can’t accept anything if you already disagree with it? Then here. Here’s a Foreign Affairs article on the same:

    http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/67338/evan-fraser-and-andrew-rimas/the-psychology-of-food-riots

    Here’s The American Thinker: http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/01/america_and_the_middle_east_fo.html

    The Examiner:
    http://www.examiner.com/finance-examiner-in-national/demand-for-us-food-exports-to-grow-as-food-riots-spur-middle-east-turmoil
     
    Bloomberg:
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-01-26/wheat-corn-soybeans-jump-as-food-riots-bolster-demand-for-u-s-exports.html
     
    Money News:
    http://www.moneynews.com/Economy/Wheat-Price-Rise-Global-Food-Riots/2010/08/11/id/367208
     
    There are many more. But I’m sure you won’t bother even looking at anything, because you’ve already made up your mind.

  • carma

    http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/01/america_and_the_middle_east_fo.html
    http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/67338/evan-fraser-and-andrew-rimas/the-psychology-of-food-riots

    heh, i do read your content.  but not one word mentions anything about the enviornment and our oil usage causing food shortages.

    so try again.

    and btw, if anything american policy on creating fuel for ethanol out of corn has caused more instability than your case for oil causing havoc on the enviornment.  it requies more energy to create fuel from corn, than what you can extract from corn.  a stupid policy under the bush administration.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2122961/

  • Anonymous

    @d8d46f16f380afef59ca318522397233:disqus No offense, but your attitude epitomizes the problems with this country. You say you pay too many taxes … how do you figure? Compared to what? Compared to every other industrialized country, maybe? Not even close: we have almost the lowest tax burden of every other industrialized country:
    http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/24/the-tax-burden-around-the-developed-world/

    *and* we pay for a military whose budget is bigger than something like the next 15 country’s military budgets *combined* and which is 20% of our budget. These two things — too much money on defense and too low of taxes — are the reason we have so many financial problems and why, among many things, our public transit and healthcare is so poor.

    Just take gas: we already pay some of the lowest gas taxes in the world (excepting countries ruled by despots and ogliarchs):
    http://usa.streetsblog.org/2011/02/24/the-economist-rock-bottom-u-s-gas-tax-makes-gas-cheaper-than-water/

    How do all these other countries take care of the poor with such high gas taxes? It can be done. There’s certainly no reason to trash our planet just because we don’t want to acknowledge that other countries have figured out how to tax gasoline and still have healthy and thriving societies.

    It’s time we stop acting like we know it all and are somehow the exception to all the rules that govern human behavior. Every other developed country seems to have figured out that, to get the things we want, you gotta pay more taxes. You can’t have it both ways: if you want good schools, healthcare, parks, public transit, firefighters, cops, etc. you gotta pay for it. If you want low taxes, then you don’t get those things. But you can’t have both.

  • Dewey

    “The construction industry is a vocal supporter of an increase, since low revenues have hamstrung new development. Indeed, it’s hard to find anyone outside of Washington these days that doesn’t see the obvious need to raise the gas tax, which hasn’t been increased since 1993, when gas was just over a dollar a gallon.”

    Wrong about everyone outside of DC thinking we need to raise gas taxes. If you mean because the roads are a mess, that’s because the “construction industry”  that is a “vocal supporter” builds crap roads with crap materials that they get some dumb ass in government to approve. Average life for a road now is what? 6 months?

    Raise gas taxes so we can get more crappy roads? No thanks.

  • I’m no idiot

    “Indeed, it’s hard to find anyone outside of Washington these days that
    doesn’t see the obvious need to raise the gas tax, which hasn’t been
    increased since 1993, when gas was just over a dollar a gallon.”

    I imagine that it *is* difficult to find anyone when you only ask people who agree with your opinion. Here’s a reality check for you: the economy is lousy, many people are struggling to get by, and you want to RAISE taxes?!  Do you have even the slightest clue about the ripple effects of a big gas tax hike on the rest of the economy? Everything that directly or indirectly uses gasoline will go up in price: food (the farm equipment and fishing boats needs fuel), goods (the delivery trucks and trains need fuel), construction (the delivery trucks need fuel), public transportation (the buses and trains need fuel), etc., etc.

    Next time, try looking at the big picture before making ignorant, self-serving statements like this.