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The CEO of General Motors is making waves with his unexpected endorsement of hiking up the gas taxes. In an interview with Detroit News, he explained his position: "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," Akerson said. "People will start buying more Cruzes and they will start buying less Suburbans." Over at the Utopianist, I examine whether or not raising gas taxes is a good idea on its own merits. Here, I will explain why Akerson is sort of full of crap. Or at least, saying the right things for the wrong reasons:
You see, Ackerson, is squirming against the proposed idea of dramatically upgrading fuel efficiency standards -- eventually slated to be 62 mpg for cars -- it will cost his company money to build more fuel efficient cars.
But in the current political environment, raising the gas tax has a snowball's chance in hell of becoming a reality -- which casts as dubious his true intentions of voicing the idea. He can call for environmentally-conscious measures while rejecting economy standard upgrades, and come out looking like a good guy.
This doesn't necessarily mean Akerson is insincere about the idea -- it's not quite as ridiculous as Exxon calling for a carbon tax. But given the auto industry's historically cozy relationship with the oil industry, and the fact that an increase in taxes would likely encourage consumers to buy less gas, I doubt we'd be seeing such progressive ideas voiced in public if such an idea were in any danger of being taken seriously.
That said Akerson is right on: we totally need stronger gas taxes. Except that we need stronger fuel efficiency standards too.