As anyone aware of the concept of supply and demand could have foreseen, Americans are driving less now that gasoline prices have passed $4.00 per gallon. So on this morning’s Today show, NBC’s Tom Costello dutifully noted that Americans have driven 20 billion fewer miles so far this year, but then declared a “bad news” side effect of drivers buying less gasoline:
“We use federal tax money that comes from gasoline sales to maintain the nation’s roads and bridges. We’re looking at a billion-plus-dollar short fall right now, and the National Governors Association wants Congress to come in and fill the gap.”
I guess “filling the gap” could either mean hiking the tax on gasoline, or supplementing the highway fund with other tax dollars. Maybe the real “bad news” for consumers is that some politicians seem determined to collect all of the gasoline taxes they desire, whether drivers actually buy the gas or not.
Costello filed his report at about 7:15am from an overpass over what looked to be the Beltway in Rockville, Maryland. He began by noting how he just paid $4.50 per gallon for his own fill-up, although Friday’s average price in Maryland is $4.046 per gallon, according to AAA’s “Fuel Gauge Report
I was on empty when I drove here this morning in my own car and so I filled up. [Holds up receipt] The price tag: 65 bucks at $4.50 a gallon. It is no surprise with prices like that that there are now two percent fewer cars on the road -- two percent fewer -- than a year ago. Somewhere between $3.50 and $4.50 a gallon, a lot of Americans are crying uncle....
Americans drove 1.4 billion fewer highway miles in April than they did a year earlier; so far this year, 20 billion fewer miles traveled. Total vehicle miles down nearly two percent. That's the first pull back since the oil crisis of the '70s and '80s. Meanwhile, demand for gas appears to have peaked last year. So far this year, deliveries down two and a half percent, the first drop in 17 years. At $4.20 a gallon, many Americans have reached a pain point....
There's a little bit of bad news associated with fewer cars on the road and that is that we use federal tax money that comes from gasoline sales to maintain the nation's roads and bridges. We're looking at a billion-plus-dollar short fall right now, and the National Governors Association wants Congress to come in and fill the gap.