So The Post wants a gas tax increase {editorial, Oct. 29}. Congratulations. Hit them where it hurts, eh? Stick it to the little guy. Whack the beltway wanderer, the freeway flirt, the poor guy trying to make it on a limited budget. Great! Enlightened! Monumentally stupid!

Let's put a tax on newspapers. We can't call it a luxury tax because there is no great value to a newspaper these days. We can't call it an entertainment tax because there is no joy in reading The Post these days. Maybe we can call it a temporary tax in the hope that it will go away. Not the tax, mind you, but The Post.

Everyone loves the Redskins. Tax them. Everyone loves ice cream cones. Tax them. Everyone loves Ted Kennedy. Tax him. Everyone loves Jessica Hahn. Tax her. I don't care who or what gets taxed, but keep The Post's editorial hands off my right to drive by loading me down with one more tax on a necessity.


Two years ago I sent The Post a letter with an even better suggestion than a gasoline tax increase for solving the deficit problem: impose a 5 percent surtax on each person's income tax for the next several years. Unfortunately, my letter was not printed. Therefore, the current collapse of the stock market and the rest of the economic mess we are in are directly the fault of The Post's letters editor. If the editor had printed my letter, I am certain that Congress would immediately and unanimously have enacted the 5 percent surtax, the deficit would have been either eliminated or whittled down substantially, the collapse in the stock market would never have taken place, and the Dow Jones industrial average would now be somewhere between 3,500 and 4,000.

Seriously, I still think my idea is not bad, in that it would be a relatively simple way to raise a very substantial amount of money. It would also have the virtue of being collectible along with regular income taxes and would be as proportionate to each taxpayer's income as his basic income tax is.


I strongly object to the editorial calling for an increase in the gasoline tax. As a resident of Maryland, I have been subjected to gasoline tax increases under the administrations of both Harry Hughes and William Schaefer. The Post must understand that gasoline taxes hurt the poor and middle classes. Driving a car is not a luxury; it is a necessity.

I live a 50-minute drive from where I work and have no choice but to drive that route daily. Furthermore, I live in a suburban area that has no public transportation. I have two children who are involved in many activities which require that they be driven back and forth, so I cannot escape such a tax. It hurts people like me more than the wealthy. Why doesn't The Post suggest taxes that would affect only those who can well afford to pay them? The Post does an injustice to the average taxpayer with its suggestion.


The Post's constant proselytizing on behalf of a gasoline tax increase to fund the deficit ignores the serious equity and economic arguments against such a proposal.

First, a 30-cent gas tax increase would be bad economics. For instance, Wharton Econometric Forecasting Associates' near-term analysis found that a 30-cent increase would put 225,000 people out of work next year and 520,000 people out of work by 1990. Even a 10-cent increase would reduce employment by 80,000 next year and 180,000 by 1990, as well as reduce the gross national product by nearly $10 billion.

Second, the American people are against the tax increase. According to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, 73 percent disapprove of raising taxes on gasoline to balance the federal budget.

Third, the poor would be hurt the most by such a tax because they drive older, less fuel efficient vehicles. We cannot believe that many members of Congress would want to hit the working poor with a large new tax burden less than a year after approving a tax reform law that was touted as removing them entirely from the federal tax rolls.

Fourth, regional inequities would be created. Why should a resident of Wyoming pay more than twice as much as a resident of the District to cut the federal deficit solely because the person in Wyoming must drive longer distances?

Fifth, taxing gasoline for deficit reduction would seriously erode the public's support for the successful pay-as-you-go federal/state highway program. States would be hard-pressed to justify needed increases in their transportation-related taxes if their federal counterparts usurped this taxing mechanism.

Sixth, the tourism industry, one of the top three employers in 80 percent of the states, would be adversely affected.

Attempting to balance the budget at the gas pump is a quick-fix illusion that deserves the same fate it has repeatedly encountered throughout the years -- rejection.

JOHN ARCHER Managing Director, Government Affairs American Automobile Association Falls Church

The case for an increase in the gasoline tax in current circumstances is so overwhelming that foreigners are totally baffled by the failure of Congress to enact it. Gasoline prices were much higher a few years ago, and somehow the country survived. Europeans have been paying two or three times as much we do for their gasoline for years, and their economies are quite healthy. What is the problem?

E. PETER WRIGHT Washington