Top White House economic advisor Gary Cohn reportedly revives idea of hiking gas tax

Key Points
  • National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn reportedly told lawmakers they would have the opportunity to raise the federal gas tax early next year.
  • President Donald Trump earlier this year said he was open to increasing the federal fuel levy.
  • The gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon and has not changed since 1993.
Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn speaks during the daily news briefing at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, September 28, 2017 in Washington, DC.
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Top White House economic advisor Gary Cohn reportedly raised the prospect of hiking the federal gasoline tax on Wednesday, reviving the idea after President Donald Trump raised the issue earlier this year.

Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, told a group of moderate Democrats and Republicans they would have the opportunity to vote to increase the gas tax when Congress considers an infrastructure package early next year, Politico reported. Cohn made the remark while discussing elements of the administration's $1.5 trillion tax cut with the Problem Solvers Caucus, according to Politico.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.

The U.S. government currently applies a charge of 18.4 cents per gallon on retail gasoline. Revenue from the levy goes to the Highway Trust Fund, which pays for road construction and mass transportation. The tax has not changed since 1993.

In May, Trump said he was open to raising the gas tax in order to underwrite improvements to the nation's infrastructure.

Then White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer later clarified that Trump was not endorsing a hike but was considering it. He said an undisclosed group of truckers had asked Trump to consider raising the tax and use the funds to patch up roads.

Shortly after Trump's remarks, White House infrastructure advisor and LeFrak Organization CEO Richard LeFrak told CNBC the president deserved credit for broaching what has historically been "the third rail of politics." He noted that several states have recently raised their own gas taxes.

The average national gas price stands at $2.45 a gallon. The cost at the pump has remained relatively low since an oil price downturn in 2014.

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