Joe Scarborough Misremembers: ‘Didn’t Bill Clinton Sign Tax Cuts On Gas?’

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough sometimes gets his facts wrong. In an interview with Robert Reich today, he misremembered the history of the federal fuel tax:

Didn’t Bill Clinton sign tax cuts on gas back in the 90s?

Reich, somewhat taken aback, replied, “Well, he may have . . .”

Watch it:

Reich was a bit flummoxed because President Clinton did not sign tax cuts on gas — he did the opposite. In 1993 Bill Clinton increased fuel taxes by 4.3 cents, following five-cent increases from his predecessors Reagan and Bush.

As this chart from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials shows, they raised the gas tax to try to make up for its declining ability to pay for the Highway Trust Fund:

Federal Gasoline Tax Rate in Real 2004 Dollars
Gas tax history
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials

According to the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, since President Clinton last signed an increase in the federal fuel tax 15 years ago, the “real Federal gasoline tax rate has decreased by 40 percent as measured by changes in the Producer Price Index for Highway and Street Construction.” The federal gas tax of 18.4 cents now makes up only five percent of the cost of a $3.60 gallon of gas.