With all the talk on how to fund our government and the various projects we need to undertake, it’s made me think about that phrase “regressive tax”. As in, “there was no support for that initiative, because it was seen as a regressive tax on the poor.”
For example, in the inexorable push to widen highways, many jurisdictions have realized that, well, they’re broke, and have no money for upkeep, even if they’re given the money to build something new.
This has led to the idea of tolling roads, especially in some places that have never had them before. Close to home, tolls may be coming to Portland soon.
Tolling roads is nicely self-contained: if you use a road, you pay for the road. If you don’t, you don’t.
The money you spend goes to fund road improvements (which we now know aren’t otherwise paid for), and also it has the side benefit of reducing traffic (since people like teenage me will avoid tolls where they can).
A common argument against tolling roads is that it’s a “regressive tax” on the poor. The idea there is that the cost will be more burdensome to those with lesser incomes.
I’ve been rolling this around in my head for a while. And I’ve arrived at a question:
Isn’t, well, everything, a regressive tax?
And if everything is a regressive tax, than isn’t that not a good argument to use in opposition?