“If you want people to consume something less, the simplest thing to do is price it more dearly.” Thus goes the argument for higher gasoline taxes, articulated by none other than General Motors’ chairman and chief executive G. Richard Wagoner Jr..
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise: for years automakers have expressed quiet support for higher gas taxes, mostly as a replacement for the fuel economy regulations (known as CAFE standards) that the industry abhors. Of course, there’s reason to be skeptical of their motives: higher fuel taxes are a political nonstarter, so by supporting them the industry is effectively supporting the status quo. The fact that gas taxes face such an uphill battle makes other reforms—limiting spending on new roads, pay-as-you-drive car insurance—all the more important.
So to the extent that Waggoner is sincere in his support of higher gas taxes, this may be one case in which what’s good for G.M. really is good for the country.