Gas Tax Quacks Lack Knack
October 16, 2002
Mark Sanford has to be smiling right about now.
With less than three weeks until he is officially elected the next governor of South Carolina, the growingly desperate campaign of his lame duck Democratic opponent thinks it has found THE decisive issue that will resonate most with the voters of South Carolina: the gasoline tax!
The Hodges for Governor campaign is hedging its bets on a supposed grassroots effort to spread the word about Mark Sanfordís idea to raise the gas tax a nickel as part of his income tax elimination plan. But these gas tax quacks lack knack in getting their message across to a voting population who could really care less about this issue!
A suspicious group calling themselves Republicans for Hodges (and speaking of that, what genuine Republican is going to be voting for Jim Hodges in this election anyway? Maybe one thatís really a Democrat posing as a Republican! Hmm?!?!) made an announcement yesterday that they have partnered with several gas stations and small business owners in an organized statewide grassroots effort to warn South Carolinians about the gas tax increase included in Mark Sanfordís income tax elimination plan. These businesses will be passing out bumper stickers and posting signs that say SANFORD = GAS TAXES to ďwarnĒ their customers about the income tax plan espoused by the former First District Congressman.
But donít let the noble intentions of these businesses fool you! This is nothing more than the same old political trickery from the Hodges campaign we have all grown accustomed to. It turns out that the Pantry stores and Carolina Convenience Stores are the exact same businesses who were involved with the Jim Hodges campaign for governor in 1998 when he was proposing bring a state lottery to South Carolina. Of course, the Hodges campaign would never divulge this information to the general public. It really makes you wonder what else theyíve been hiding from the voters during this campaign and the past four years in Columbia, doesnít it?
With all the hoopla surrounding the gas tax increase that is part of the Sanford income tax elimination plan, I thought it would be educational to examine what it will mean in actual dollars to me personally.
So I did the math.
I fill up my car with gasoline in South Carolina about once per week. On each of my weekly visits, I usually purchase about ten gallons each time. Based on my current gasoline consumption, adding a measly five cents to my current gasoline usage, my total gas tax bill increases to $26. Even if I were to quadruple my gas consumption in the next year, Iím still only looking at about a hundred bucks for this extremely irrelevant ď40 percent increase in the gas tax.Ē
This orchestrated attempt by the Hodges campaign to discredit Mark Sanfordís income tax elimination plan because of the gas tax increase included in it is a political gimmick that will not work. The basis of this ruse is predicated on the notion that the gas tax increase will be devastating on individuals and businesses in South Carolina. Nothing could be further from the truth.
There is no evidence that any family in South Carolina will suffer as a result of this very minuscule increase in the gasoline tax.
Think about it. The price of gasoline in 2002 alone has risen nearly 50 cents! I used to be able to purchase gas for my car at the K-mart Supercenter for $.89 back in the Spring this year. Slowly, however, gas prices has crept up and down and back up again to the current price of $1.33. That is a 67 percent increase in the price of gasoline from March 2002 to October 2002! Where is the outcry about this from these people complaining about Mark Sanford's nickel increase proposal? The price increase in gasoline is much more agregious than anything Mark Sanford's plan will do. With all the fearmongering spread about five cents, how can families survive paying two extra quarters more for gas? If the economy will shut down because of a nickel, then what is fifty cents doing to the economy?
Furthermore, with 50% of the income tax relief implemented after the first four years of Mark Sanfordís plan goes into effect, the long-term financial picture for South Carolinians shows that people will have a lot more money in their pockets than they do today in just a few short years. Additionally, the money that is raised from the gas tax will be invested in rebuilding the rainy day fund that Jim Hodges has completely drained as well as improving the roads and infrastructure in South Carolina. Even a liberal Democrat can agree that these are worthy causes to support!
The fear being promulgated by the Hodges campaign that Mark Sanfordís income tax elimination plan will never happen is not based on fact either. This is an shameful attempt by the Hodges campaign to spread needless worry to unsuspecting voters. However, I am confident that the voters of South Carolina are too smart to fall for this act of desperation by the Hodges campaign.
Likewise, the recent increase in gasoline prices as a result of the imminent war with Iraq is irrelevant to this conversation about the gas tax. History has proven that gas prices will come back down in due course. They always have and always will. Interestingly, most drivers in South Carolina could not tell you how much money they spend in taxes at the gas pump since all they see is the cumulative total of all taxes with the gasoline they purchase. Is a nickel really worth fretting over? I donít think so.
Nevertheless, here is one clear truth you can take to the bank on Election Day. Mark Sanford has a solid record of keeping his promises. When he was a Congressman, he promised to be fiscally responsible and he kept it. In a bold move on his part, he chose to limit his time in office as a U. S. Congressman to three terms. And he kept that promise, too! A man of his word is a man you can trust. That is what we have in Mark Sanford.
Mark Sanford has more than earned the trust of the people of South Carolina. That is why he will win the race for governor on November 5th and lead this state into a prosperous future.