(HOST) Veteran ABC News correspondent and commentator Bill Seamans is intrigued by an ecomoic stimulus idea that would reduce one tax by increasing another – and reduce our dependency on foreign oil in the bargain.
(SEAMANS) How much money gasoline pumps out of our pocketbooks and wallets has been directly linked to our national security by one of the most respected members of Congress who is regarded as a voice of wisdom in foreign affairs. Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana – in a Washington Post column that was overwhelmed by the stimulus bill clamor said that our addiction to oil is "the albatross of our national security."
He declared that our sick economy is made even worse when we stop at the gas pump and add to the billions of dollars we ship overseas to pay our oil bill. But Senator Lugar suggests there might be some balm for our pain at the pump. He endorsed a so-called "net-zero-gas tax" – a net-zero-gas tax that would match dollar-for-dollar an increase in the federal gas tax with a decrease in the payroll tax that is paid by every working American. The gain, he said, would be a drop in gasoline consumption, a steady demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles that could revive the auto industry and call workers back to the assembly lines,by a job-creating expansion of the alternative fuel industry, and by a new era of public transportation that also would create more jobs.
Senator Lugar argued that an oil security tax that was revenue-neutral "would take every penny collected at the pump and put it right back into the pockets of the consumers" by cutting the payroll tax which, he added, "disproportionately affects the lowest wage earners, so workers would see extra money every payday."
Summarizing, Lugar said, "One of the simplest and most effective means available for strengthening our national security is to dramatically reduce our oil dependence. A gas tax that returns money to the people would take us a long way toward that goal."
Supporting Lugar is the often repeated observation that the money we spend at the gas pump goes to some countries that feed funds to terrorist groups that are killing Americans. But I question whether, like the sacrifices of war, President Obama could puncture the bubble of denial and persuade the people to see a rise in the federal gasoline tax as a patriotic national security weapon. When I recall the howl at the pump when gasoline reached four-dollars, it looks like Lugar’s proposal would have to be an Obama hard-sell – that acceptance, despite the appeal to patriotism, would be so elusive that it would have to be imposed on us gasoline addicts like it or not, bipartisan or not. I think we’ll be hearing more about the "net-zero gas tax."