Now Verleger favors what he calls a "prospective gasoline tax," which would allow the country four years to get ready to do the right thing. Congress would enact a stiff tax of $2 per gallon, to take effect in January 2009, with further increases of another dollar in each of the following three years. To cushion the blow, the Treasury would borrow against the expected tax revenue to buy back the public's gas guzzlers (defined as vehicles getting fewer than 25 miles a gallon) at their 2004 value.
Verleger estimates that this program could reduce U.S. oil consumption by almost 2 million barrels per day in the program's first year and as much as 10 million barrels per day by 2020. At a stroke, that would reduce the power of the OPEC cartel and America's vulnerability to turmoil in the Middle East. As a bonus, it would also reduce emissions that contribute to global warming and increase employment in the auto industry as all those gas guzzlers are replaced.
There's one big problem with Verleger's idea. It's too sane. America likes roaring down Thunder Road, playing chicken with the oil cartel.