Derek Hunter

The current gas tax in Oregon is 30 cents per gallon, and the VMT is 1.5 cents per mile. That means if your car gets 30 miles per gallon, you pay 30 cents in taxes for those 30 miles. But, under the VMT, that same driver would pay 45 cents for those 30 miles, a full 50 percent increase in the gas tax. Some people like this idea because, even though they’re paying more, the refund aspect perverts the real impact. It feels like you’re getting a deal because you’re getting money back, even though you’re ultimately paying more. As the president is fond of saying, “It’s math.”

Electric and hybrid cars use less gas, which means those drivers with “Coexist,” “Obama/Biden” and “Love Mother Earth” bumper stickers will be hardest hit. They paid a premium for those cars—albeit one for which they got a tax break—not only so they could be “green” but so they wouldn’t get hammered at the pump.

Meanwhile, drivers of “dirty” cars—SUVs, Hummers, etc.—would get massive tax breaks.

I imagine that’s the opposite of the good karma the “Greenies” were looking for when they bought into the over-priced “save the planet” racket. It’s enough to make you laugh…almost.

But this is how government works. It creates a problem, then offers a solution. Meanwhile, that solution creates more problems, for which the government offers even more solutions. The ever-growing snake eats its own tail.

There’s a problem here, though. The normal solution when Democrats find themselves in this position is to blame Republicans. It’s usually pretty easy considering how horrible at messaging Republicans are. But these are states controlled by Democrats. They have no one to blame but themselves.

The normal solution for this situation would be for Democrats to simply raise the gas tax. It’s not like Democrats have an aversion to raising taxes. But Democrats have painted themselves into a corner on this issue.

Democrats are stuck with choices they don’t want to make: 1.) Raise the gas tax, which is wildly unpopular and regressive, so it will hurt the poor and hit the hated SUV drivers, but will appease their “green” supporters who overpaid for their cars to “save the planet.” 2.) Institute a VMT and run the risk of alienating “green” supporters who overpaid for their cars by giving a tax break to the very drivers they most hate, and hurt the poor because they tend to have to drive to other neighborhoods for work. 3.) Let roads continue to fall apart and annoy everyone; or 4.) Cut spending and/or replenish/stop raiding transportation trust funds so maintenance can happen.

None of these options are within the natural comfort zone of Democrats, so they’re scrambling. It will be fun to watch, especially if you don’t live in one of these states. But these states are not unique, they’re just first. This stupidity will spread to your state soon enough, just like bans on electronic cigarettes, trans fats and plastic bags. Just like that cold on a plane, there is no cure for the common stupid.


Derek Hunter

Derek Hunter is Washington, DC based writer, radio host and political strategist. You can also stalk his thoughts 140 characters at a time on Twitter.