If Not for Taxes, Gas Would Be Below $2 in 29 States

December 22nd, 2014 2:32 PM

Subtracting state and federal taxes and fees on gasoline, the price of a gallon of gas would fall below $2 in 29 states, according to data published by the American Petroleum Institute in October 2014, and by AAA. AAA said the national average for gas dropped to $2.394 per gallon on Dec. 22. while the average state and federal gas taxes and fees averaged a whopping 49.28 cents-per-gallon, or more than 20 percent of the total price.

Those gas taxes, which are hidden by being incorporated into the pump price of gasoline, also went unmentioned by the broadcast network evening shows from Sept. 29 to Dec. 21.

Falling prices have been good news and economic “stimulus” for drivers and retailers, yet some liberals have already started calling to raise gas taxes even higher -- right now, so that consumers won’t feel it. The New American said on Dec. 17, that 67 percent of Americans oppose raising the federal gas tax. According to The Tax Foundation, the federal excise tax on gasoline is 18.4 cents-a-gallon.

Howard Gleckman, a Forbes contributor and a resident fellow at The Urban Institute, said on Nov. 11, that this was “a perfect opportunity to raise the gas tax,” because consumers “would barely notice if they had to pay a bit more now at the pump.”

CBS’s “60 Minutes” also promoted calls for higher taxes in a 14-minute segment on Nov. 23, by interviewing five people in favor of increased funding for transportation and no opponents. That night, Ray LaHood, former Secretary of Transportation, told correspondent Steve Kroft that “politicians in Washington” lacked the “political courage” to raise taxes and improve infrastructure.

Another former politician, CNBC’s “On the Money” Dec. 5, Democrat Ed Rendell, former governor of Pennsylvania, said it was time to raise the gas tax in a Dec. 5, CNBC “On the Money” interview. Rendell claimed, “Our infrastructure’s crumbling. Our roads and our bridges are in dangerous condition and it actually will save people money.”

Falling gas prices have been a “big plus for the economy,” according to The Los Angeles Times noted in an article Dec. 10. The Hill reported on Oct. 22 that “for every one cent decline in gasoline prices (sustained over one year), $1.4 billion is added to the economy.”

During two separate broadcasts CBS’s “This Morning,” compared decreasing gas prices to tax cuts. Neither story mentioned that the price of every gallon of gasoline includes a myriad of state and federal taxes and fees, that average nearly 50 cents.

On Dec. 15, correspondent Michelle Miller cited Greg Ip, the U.S. economics editor of The Economist, who said that lower oil prices, and hence lower gas prices, were like a “gigantic tax cut.” Miller said this so-called tax cut could potentially “boost U.S. household spending power by about $70 billion.”

Mellody Hobson, a contributor and analyst for CBS News, told “This Morning” co-host Norah O'Donnell on Dec. 11, “Think of it like a form of economic stimulus.” O'Donnell responded, “Yeah, like a tax cut almost.” Hobson agreed, “Absolutely.”

The lower gas prices were the result of falling oil prices, which dropped more than 36 percent just between Sept. 29 to Dec. 19. The broadcast news networks praised the “surprise” of lower gas prices even in August, when gas was $3.40 per gallon, but forgot that prices spiked under President Barack Obama.

The broadcast news networks’ evening shows have failed to mention gasoline taxes in even a single one of 35 relevant stories that mentioned either “gas” or “gasoline” between Sept. 29, 2014, and Dec. 21, 2014.

Rebecca Jarvis, ABC’s chief business and economics correspondent, said on “World News” Dec. 3 that seven states were “on their way to paying below $2 a gallon.” But the fact is that without them, 29 states would already be experiencing prices that low.

Methodology: The MRC’s Business and Media Institute analyzed all the stories from the evening news programs, which included the term “gas” or “gasoline,” that ran on the broadcast network evening news shows from Sept. 29, 2014, through Dec. 21, 2014. Stories that used these words in an unrelated context (e.g., “tear gas”) were excluded, as well as stories that only mentioned the search terms in passing (e.g., a story on “World News” Nov. 5 said that a winning lottery ticket was sold at a “gas station”). Of the 35 remaining stories, none mentioned gas taxes.