Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Mad About Gas Prices? Exxon Isn't the Only One With a Windfall

Who has the lion's share of benefit from our "pain at the pump"? There's an enlightening WSJ article at Mark W. Johnson's blog:

But if there is a villain in all of this, it is Congress itself. That venerable body has made it impossible for U.S. producers of crude oil to tap significant domestic reserves of oil and gas, and it has foreclosed economically viable alternative sources of energy in favor of unfeasible alternatives such as wind and solar. In addition, Congress has slapped substantial taxes on gasoline. Indeed, as oil industry executives reiterated in their appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 21, 15% of the cost of gasoline at the pump goes for taxes, while only 4% represents oil company profits. (Mackubin Thomas Owens, WSJ May 29, 2008. pg. A.17.)
Will Congress act? Yup. They'll having hearings till the end of Groundhog Day, assuring us all that it is Not Their Fault. Meanwhile, Chicago drivers contend with bigger leeches. Mike Flannery of CBS 2 Chicago did a "Truth in Politics" report on gasoline taxes a couple of weeks ago. (It's a good one this time - the video is here. And by the way, Flannery's report was based on a gas price of $4.00 per gallon. Guess he rounded off a little.) Here's the breakdown for Chicagoans:
Federal - 18. 4 cents/gal.
Illinois - 20.1 cents/gal.
Cook - 6 cents/gal.
Chicago - 5 cents/gal.
That's not counting the 9.25% Sales Tax:
Illinois Sales Tax
Chicago Sales Tax
Cook County's share of the Illinois sales tax
And the assorted they-don't-think-you're-lookin' taxes:.
County Home Rule Tax
RTA Transit Tax
Chicago Home Rule Tax
That, as Mr. Flannery points out, is TEN levels of taxation on Chicago motorists, coming to 79.2 cents per gallon at a gas price of four bucks even - twenty percent, not counting the taxes you already paid on the money you're spending to fill your tank.) Just for the State of Illinois, high gas prices mean a windfall of $220,000,000.00 for the next budget year. Now, instead of a windfall punishment tax on oil companies, wouldn't an Illinois tax revenue windfall rebate be nice?

Yes, of course, I know that's silly. Chicago, Illinois is where that 220 mil, along with many other mils, will disappear into the black hole of the tax-and-spend, cry poor and tax again government budgets. But a consolation prize - like a moratorium on issue-ducking congressional bloviation hearings (that we pay for) wouldn't hurt a bit.

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