Forget all the happy talk about how Americans, flush with their $1,000 payroll tax cut set to be extended by Congress, will be hitting the mall to spend, spend, spend. That cool grand won't even cover the surge in gas prices under President Obama and will have to be nearly doubled if summer predictions of $5 regular come true.
The math is simple: according to government and consumer group figures, Americans pay an average of $1,010 more a year for gas than they did on President Obama's Inauguration Day in January 2009. The payroll tax cut, which Americans already receive, is a maximum of $1,000. That means the tax cut, which Congress has agreed to extend, falls $10 short of paying American's gas bill even before they hit the malls or pawn shops.
Here's how it breaks down. When Obama came into office, gas averaged about $1.84, according to Consumer Reports. Americans drive an average of 13,476 miles a year, said the Department of Transportation. And the current average American mpg is 22.4 gallons. That means drivers buy an average of 601 gallons of gas a year. Today, a gallon of regular averages $3.52, a three year difference of $1.68, meaning Americans are paying $1,010 more a year than in January 2009.
And if gas surges to $5 as some reports suggest, that means Americans will end up paying $1,899 more than when Obama came into office, nearly twice the value of the payroll tax cut.