Gas tax hike is 'going absolutely nowhere,' says anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist

Key Points
  • President Trump won't raise the gas tax and risk his popularity, says anti-tax activist Grover Norquist.
  • Trump ran as someone who wouldn't raise taxes, Norquist points out.
  • The proposed gas tax hike is "dead on the House and the Senate side," he says.
President will not support the massive cash grab on the middle class: Norquist on gas tax

A proposed hike on the gas tax is "going absolutely nowhere," anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist told CNBC on Thursday.

"I've spoken with Republican leaders. This is dead on the House and the Senate side," the president and founder of Americans for Tax Reform said in an interview with "Closing Bell."

President Donald Trump has reportedly signaled that he'll endorse a 25-cent gas tax increase to fund the $1 trillion to $1.7 trillion White House infrastructure program to repair the nation's highways, bridges and railroads.

However, Norquist doesn't believe Trump will support such a hike.

"The president of the United States is not going to put his name or his party's imprimatur on a massive cash grab between now and election on middle-income voters," Norquist said.

The gas tax has not budged since 1993 when President Bill Clinton was in office. The last increase raised the price by 4.3 cents, bringing the total tax to 18.4 cents per gallon for retail gasoline and 24.4 cents for diesel.

The new proposal would elevate the tax to approximately 43 cents for retail gasoline. But the proposal drew opposition almost immediately — including among some Republicans — because it would mean individuals would lose 60 percent of the benefit from the new tax policy, according to Strategas Research.

Norquist said he's spoken with Republican leaders who were at the meeting where Trump reportedly supported the tax hike. He said they didn't hear Trump endorse anything.

"The president said he was open to things at a meeting," Norquist said.

In fact, raising the rate would affect the popularity of both Trump and the GOP at a time when midterm elections are looming, he pointed out.

"The modern Republican Party in California expects to do well in a blue state because the Democrats just raised the gas tax in California," Norquist said. "I do not believe that President Trump will side with the Democrats ... of California. Or, lose up to half of the benefit of his tax cut, which has made him more popular. A gas tax is an attack on middle-income America," he said.

As of February, several polls show the president's approval rating was at least 40 percent.