Low Consumer Confidence Plus High Gas Prices Do Not a Recovery Make

It's worth revisiting this Robert Reich op-ed from two days ago in light of today's jobs numbers. Reich points out that while job growth has grown slowly though not at the rate needed for recovery, consumer confidence is at it's lowest since the Great Depression, largely because of the rise in fuel and commodity prices.

What's even more ironic in all of this is that cash-strapped states are considering raising state taxes on gas to fund infrastructure projects while the federal government won't budge on the rate of 18 cents per gallon. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Connecticut's first-year governor is proposing to raise the state tax on a gallon of gasoline by 3 cents and on diesel by 2 cents. Maryland's legislature is considering a dime increase for each. Officials in Nebraska, Hawaii, Virginia, South Carolina and South Dakota have considered proposals to raise gas taxes in recent months, according to transportation experts and information compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Oregon has already taken the plunge, raising its tax 6 cents from this year. Lawmakers in other states, such as Georgia and Arkansas, have pressed other measures, such as raising fees drivers pay when they register vehicles, and devoting a portion of state sales-tax revenue to highway funding.

So here's what I don't understand. In all the clamor to make sure that income taxes and payroll taxes stay low, why does there appear to be a total lack of concern regarding gasoline taxes and prices? My theory: Consumers have grown so accustomed to seeing gas prices skyrocket and grow year on year that local governments feel they can put the squeeze on consumers here without the same backlash they might face if they taxed income.

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