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On Friday, the Iranian regime announced gasoline prices would jump 50 percent, and in some cases 300 percent, a decree that immediately sent protesters flooding the streets in more than 100 cities across the country.
Iran is already cracking down violently on the protests. At least 200 are dead and the government admits to arresting 1,000 others. On Saturday, the government also cut off internet access for the Iranian people.
Massive protests in Iran are not new. We saw the Green Revolution a decade ago in response to fraudulent elections. Huge demonstrations also erupted nearly two years ago, spurred by the public’s increasing frustration with a government increasingly seen as corrupt and using the money it does have for priorities that have nothing to do with the good of the people.
But will these protests have a different outcome? What is needed to force the ayatollahs and the political leaders to make significant change or relinquish power? What role do the United States and the United Nations need to play? And can Iranian demonstrators count on the UN to put pressure on Iranian leaders?
We discuss this and much more with Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of the Washington office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran.
The Trump administration says higher gas taxes are on the table when figuring out how to pay for infrastructure projects and Republicans in one battleground state just hiked gas taxes there, arguing that it had to be done. But one of the nation’s fiercest opponents of tax increases says Americans should not fall for the argument that higher taxes means better roads and bridges.
“Year after year, politicians say they are going to prioritize fixing the roads, widening roads, widening bridges and so on and then they don’t. And so people believe that maybe if they raise taxes they would do that.
“In point of fact, when you do raise the gas tax in various states, the politicians siphon off much of that money into things that have nothing to do with roads,” said Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist.
Norquist says a fraction of the extra revenue – or sometimes none – actually gets spent on roads and that leads to calls for even more taxes.
“Politicians love to use their failure to focus on roads as an excuse for you to give them more money. It’s a bad idea. Nobody should fall for it,” said Norquist.
According to Norquist, just the fact that politicians want to raise your taxes while portraying themselves as passionate about upgrading infrastructure, puts the lie to their argument.
“Keep in mind, a politician who says to you, ‘I care so much about…roads, prisons, education that I’m willing to raise taxes to support it.’ That politician did not tell you how much he likes roads, prisons, education. He just told you that everything that’s presently in the multi-billion dollar budget of our state is more important than roads because I wouldn’t stop doing any of that and put it into roads,” said Norquist.
Listen to the full podcast to hear Norquist explain how increasing gas taxes raises your expenses far beyond the gas pump.