Raise gas tax? How about eliminating it: Pethokoukis

Phase out gas tax; Need infrastructure bank: Pethokoukis
Phase out gas tax: Pethokoukis   

While falling gas prices have prompted some to call for an increase in the gas tax, American Enterprise Institute's James Pethokoukis believes that hiking the gas tax isn't necessarily the answer to the nation's aging infrastructure woes.

In fact, he thinks eliminating the tax altogether may be the solution.

By phasing it out and letting states decide how much they want to spend in infrastructure "you might get more spending because those kinds of referendum, local referendum on roads and bridges, tend to pay more at the state level than the federal level," Pethokoukis, also a CNBC contributor, said in an interview with CNBC's "Street Signs."

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The savings from cheap gas has been likened to a tax cut. Consumers are paying an average $2.67 per gallon, the lowest since February 2010, according to AAA.

However, those low prices have spurred calls to hike the gas tax in order to repair the nation's crumbling roads and bridges.

"The gas tax, I think, was last raised [in] 1993. So now we're talking 21 years of talking about the gas tax, about more infrastructure spending, and it's not happening. I don't think this drop in gas prices is going to make it happen," Pethokoukis said.

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If eliminating the gas tax isn't in the cards, he thinks another option is freezing the gas tax at the current levels, which are currently 18.40 cents a gallon on gasoline and 24.40 on diesel.

"You could spend all that money, which would be like an extra $15 billion a year, on maintenance and repair and if you want new spending, create an infrastructure bank where you'd be able to gauge a return on investment from any new spending," he said.

—CNBC's Katie Kramer contributed to this report.