President Donald Trump is at risk of undermining the benefits of his tax reform law if rising gas prices are not addressed, warned a former transition team member Wednesday.
Ken Blackwell was appointed by the then president-elect to lead the selection process for positions involving domestic issues. He is now warning the administration from the outside that rising gas prices could undermine the tax reform law the president recently signed. A law he considers to be the president’s signature accomplishment.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was designed to boost economic growth by reducing the tax burden on individuals and businesses. While the long-term impact of the law is still being debated, there have already been promising signs like taxpayers seeing more in their paycheck – a positive development which is potentially being threatened.
“It’s important to take a look at history on this,” Blackwell told InsideSources. “President Bush’s tax cuts were wiped out because of rising gas prices. This brings up the larger issue of the economic risk that comes with energy dependence. And in order to help Americans to keep more of their money from tax cuts, we need to ensure we slow rising gas prices.”
Former President George W. Bush enacted two major pieces of legislation that also cut tax rates – usually referred to as the Bush Tax Cuts. Blackwell argues that the payroll savings from those tax cuts were largely negated by the costs taxpayers faced because of gas prices. He warns the same thing could very well happen this time around too.
The American Automobile Association found in a report Feb. 26 that national gas prices were 29 cents more expensive compared to the same time last year. The report warns that while gas prices did decrease a bit since the start of the year, that trend is unlikely to continue. The rate also remains higher than the previous three years.
“You have families that are now realizing a $1,000 or $2,000 a year in income that they can put against their family’s needs,” Blackwell said. “But if you appreciate the volatility of global oil pricing you can see oil prices go up dramatically. That can easily wipe out a couple thousand dollars a year.”
Blackwell currently works as a senior adviser at the Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE). The energy independence advocate brings together prominent military and business leaders to develop and advocate for policies intended to improve the country’s energy security.
SAFE examined how the Bush Tax Cuts impacted income in contrast to the increased costs of gasoline in 2014. The analysis found that the average household income increased by $1,900 while their spending on gas climbed by $2,000 between 2001 and 2008. That means the typical family was actually losing money in the long run.
Blackwell notes that it’s not too late for the president to avoid the same problem when it comes to his tax cuts. He argues that the country should start moving more towards energy independence by utilizing its own energy reserves so there is less need to rely on foreign countries – allowing for better control of prices. He also believes the president should strengthen and modernize fuel efficiency standards.
Individuals and families are impacted by rising gas prices in many different ways. They use gas directly for many daily tasks like driving. A rise in gas prices also impacts them indirectly like when it comes to how much it costs to transport goods to retailers.
Blackwell says the president should also design reforms to protect the country against the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The intergovernmental organization includes over a dozen oil-rich countries, and thus, has significant control of global oil prices. Blackwell warns the group has been able to manipulate the global oil supply to their own benefit which has put the national economy at the mercy of foreign powers.
Blackwell has worked to warn people about the potential risks of increased oil prices while working with military and business experts to develop solutions.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was unpopular when it was signed into law Dec. 22. But views of the reforms have appeared to be shifting in a more positive direction recently. Monmouth University found in a poll Jan. 31 that opinion of the law is split evenly at 44 percent – compared to only 26 percent approval in December.