'Orwellian politspeak' on gas tax hike
They must be reading a lot of George Orwell in Gov. Tom Corbett's inner circle these days.
The Associated Press first reported that the “centerpiece” of the governor's forthcoming transportation funding plan — to repair infrastructure and give mass transit a more “dedicated” funding stream — involves raising taxes on the wholesale price of a gallon of gasoline.
Or as the AP distilled it — “nearly $2 billion a year in new taxes on gas stations.”
Such counterintuitive economic “progress” would be accomplished by eliminating the cap on the Oil Company Franchise Tax, now applied to the first $1.25 of the wholesale price. Eliminating the cap, and applying the tax to the full wholesale price, would raise about $1.9 billion annually, state officials told the AP.
And even though it walks, quacks and does something odoriferous that shares a name with a dice game, just don't offend political sensibilities and call it a “tax hike.”
Since, supposedly, the increased taxes won't be paid directly by consumers — as in the end-users who fill up their vehicles — “How is (Corbett) raising taxes?” spokesman Kevin Harley asked the AP.
“I'm curious how he's raising taxes,” Mr. Harley added.
As George F. Will is wont to say in moments like these: “Well.”
Or as Jake Haulk, president of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, put it, “Orwellian politspeak.”
Considering the thigh bone's connected to the backbone, the backbone's connected to the neck bone and the neck bone's connected to the head bone (though that being questionable in the latter case), taxpayers should find Harley's statement on behalf of the Corbett administration nothing short of “How stupid do you think we are?”
If wholesalers are going to pay nearly 29 cents more per gallon — which is the estimated effect of a full and immediate removal of the Oil Company Franchise Tax cap — does the administration sanely believe that wholesalers won't pass any, some or all of that cost on to the gasoline stations they supply, or that gas stations, with quite slim profit margins — it's under 2 percent (and for total sales, not merely gasoline sales) for private stations — are going to swallow the increase?
“Margins for gas stations and wholesalers are thin,” reiterates Dr. Haulk, a Ph.D. economist. “Thus any increase in taxes on gasoline will cut into profits unless they can pass the tax hike along to consumers.
“As we have learned in recent years, the demand for gasoline is very inelastic — that is to say increases absorbed primarily by consumers do not lower the amount purchased significantly. And therefore price jumps caused by tax hikes will be absorbed primarily by consumers.”
That's Economics 101, Haulk says. And “since the public will be well aware of the tax hike, the retailers and wholesalers can blame the politicians for higher prices.”
And not only for gasoline but for every consumer product in the supply chain delivered by a gasoline-powered vehicle. Gee, what will those new pizza-delivery surcharges be?
How is Tom Corbett raising taxes? That's how Tom Corbett is raising taxes, Kevin Harley.
Colin McNickle is Trib Total Media's director of editorial pages (412-320-7836 or email@example.com).
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- New Castle-area racino remains in limbo
- Pirates’ outfield may have few defensive peers
- NFL coaches weigh in on Polamalu’s legacy
- Carnegie Mellon University’s Speck device monitors indoor pollution
- Westmoreland County Transit Authority to buy 12 minibuses
- 17 Pennsylvania veterans inducted into Hall of Valor
- Players, casinos pan IRS idea to track more slot payouts
- ATV rider injured in Stewaert Twp. mishap
- U.N. Watch: The Gaza follies
- Starkey: Next frontier for Steelers offense
- Germanwings flight co-pilot Lubitz worried about job security, officials say