If Cooper’s Consistent, He’ll Oppose Biden’s Gas Tax Holiday

June 22, 2022

Politico reports that President Joe Biden intends to pressure Congress to temporarily suspend the 18-cent-per-gallon federal gas tax and that he’ll pressure states to do the same. If Gov. Cooper has any semblance of consistency, he’ll oppose President Biden’s proposal (like Congressional Democrats already do, according to Politico). Why?

In Cooper’s own words, “tax cuts should be targeted to support middle class families, not the wealthy.” A federal gas tax suspension would not be income-based, so it would benefit people from all income levels. That sounds awfully similar to the reform majority’s sweeping income tax cuts that Cooper has long fought against.

Unlike income tax cuts, though, a gas tax suspension would exclude people who can only afford to take the bus: The gas tax suspension would only benefit those who can afford to own a car. The Governor says he wants “tax cuts for those who need it, not tax breaks for people making more than $200,000 per year.” Will he now do an about-face and support a tax break that helps BMW drivers but not bus riders?

By contrast, the very lowest earners – those who can’t afford a car – have benefited from the reform majority’s income tax cuts because they’ve raised the zero-tax bracket – the income level under which people pay zero tax.

It’s impossible for Cooper to at once stand behind his years-long objections to income tax cuts and support a gas tax holiday.

As former President Barack Obama said of a proposed gas tax holiday in 2008, “For us to suggest that 30 cents a day is real relief, that that’s a real energy policy, means we are not tackling the problem that has to be tackled. We are offering gimmicks.”