37.5 cents of every gallon of gas you buy goes to pay federal, state, and local taxes. That amounts to an annual gas tax burden of $271 for every American.
Since road construction is a state and local obligation, state or local gas taxes may make some sense. After all, people who use the highways and byways should share in paying for their construction and upkeep.
But the federal gas tax, 18.4 cents per gallon, is a different matter entirely. Originally levied in the 1950s to pay for the construction of the interstate highway system, the tax survives even though the highway system has long since been completed.
Today the federal gas tax funds pork, and lots of it. August's federal highway bill, funded by the federal gas tax, is a $286 billion collection of pet projects and politically motivated giveaways, including $233 million for "Don Young's Way," an Anchorage, Alaska bridge named after the House transportation committee chairman.
Arizona Reps. John Shadegg and Jeff Flake, who along with Sens. John McCain and John Kyl, admirably voted against the highway bill, have various proposals to suspend or reduce the federal gas tax.
That would be a smart way to make gas more affordable.
-Laurie Roberts: "Something Smells: Gas Tax Funding Too Much Pork"
-Robert Robb: "Shameful shaming, sniffing at a city rule, tax shenanigans"
-Tax Foundation: "Local, State and Federal Gas Taxes Consume 45.9 Cents Per Gallon on Average"