Guises for a gas tax

Rebates are a key feature of good energy efficiency policy, to avoid the Jevons Paradox. Now two clever law professors have suggested using the same idea to make a gas tax palatable:
Here is how it would work: Suppose you are the average driver, driving 12,000 miles a year in a 15 miles-per-gallon car. A $2 per gallon tax would cost you $1,600 a year. You would be unhappy about that. Sure, you would drive less if taxed and next time you would buy a car with better petrol mileage. But you would be so annoyed at the tax that you would not forgive your congressman for voting for it. But if you got a $1,600 cheque or a visible rebate on your taxes, you would understand that you were even: you might even think that with a little life adjustment, you could beat the game and come out ahead.

Your rebate would not change if you used less petrol. So you would have an incentive to keep some of that $1,600 by driving a little less often in a more fuel-efficient car. The country would import that much less oil, produce less carbon dioxide and get that much more freedom to manoeuvre in the international arena.
I think that is quite clever. Jay Yarow thinks we should just tell the truth:
Why does everything have to be so complicated? Here's a much simpler solution. Tell the public that the roads are falling apart and public transit is screwed because the tax collected from gas is too low to cover those expenses. We can keep racking up debt to pay for these expenses, or we can raise the tax on gas to cover our costs.
I'm going to flat out assert there's no amount of straight talk that would make a straight gas tax politically feasible. I could see rebates doing the trick, although it won't be as simple as it sounds. Or, of course, we could make cap-and-trade a de facto gasoline tax by giving free allowances to power generators and forcing refiners to buy theirs on the market.

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