US Representative Bill Shuster (D-Pa), Chairman of the House Transportation Committee announced he has ruled out any increase in the Federal gasoline tax (at this time) in order to finance the Highway Trust Fund. The need to increase tax revenue stems from a $20 billion shortfall and the staggering condition of the nation’s highways and bridges needing even more spending. Hmmm.
Shuster has pushed for increased funding during this session of Congress to support the highway infrastructure. So when he says no increase in the gasoline tax, where does he think the money will come from?
The gas tax answer should be obvious. Of course a gas tax increase is both necessary and long overdue. The reluctance to embrace such a tax increase follows from the GOP campaign pledge of no new taxes.
Looking around the world it should surprise no one that all other major modern economies impose higher taxes on gasoline. This highlights how ridiculous the GOP tax position is, and how out of touch with governance the GOP opposition to a “use” tax is.
Here’s the box the GOP is climbing into. The GOP also positions itself as “pro jobs and pro business”. Well, how exactly will those businesses get their products to market or will workers get to their jobs if the current road system continues to decay faster than it is repaired?
The bottom line GOP argument seems to be Government is too big. “Too big” seems to represents any government spending or functions which the GOP does not support (like Defense, Agriculture, and tax code exemptions). Unfortunately (for the GOP) the purpose of government is much broader. Congress in 2015 will reveal whether it is fit to govern from the White House by how they approach funding.
Increasing the Federal gasoline tax is of course not the only route to increasing the Highway Trust Fund. With a “no tax increase” policy, however, money spent upon roads must come from some other existing spending, or come from the national credit card (borrowings). Shifting current spending is a viable idea but begs the question that agreement can be found on which existing programs will be cut?
Putting increased transportation spending on the credit card is irresponsible and completely hypocritical when viewed by past GOP statements on the national debt. The credit card approach, however, is the easiest technique to address the roads issue without raising taxes. Hmmm.
Why don’t politicians remember “pay me now or pay me later”.