Skip to comments.Highway (trust fund) robbery:Obama wants new taxes to replenish the trust fund depleted by raiding
Posted on 06/07/2014 5:17:07 AM PDT by bestintxas
The Highway Trust Fund is running on fumes, and this is sending certain congressmen and the administration into a tizzy. The administration insists that Americas roads are crumbling, the bridges tumbling, and Congress must raise taxes, or else.
If they dont act by the end of the summer, President Obama says, federal funding for transportation projects will run out will run out. There will be no money. The cupboard will be bare.
This is a classic Washington crisis by the numbers. Congress sets up a trust fund in this case, the Highway Trust Fund and depletes it by spending the cash on projects that have nothing to do with highways. When theres no money left, taxes must be raised.
The Obama administration sells this fanciful tale with claims that Americas cars and trucks have been made magically more fuel-efficient by government fiat, and since everybody is paying less than ever in taxes on gasoline, raising the tax on gasoline wont actually hurt. It might sound plausible, but thats not the story the numbers tell. In 2009, gross receipts for the gasoline tax were $24.6 billion. Every year since, theyve gone up, to the most recent accounting of $25.5 billion. Separate taxes imposed on diesel fuel for the big rigs brings the total sum to $41.3 billion.
Thats a lot of money, and its keeping Americas roads and bridges in the best condition in decades. According to a Cato Institute review of
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtontimes.com ...
If they dont act by the end of the summer, President Obama says, federal funding for transportation projects will run out will run out...”
About Fast and Furious..HE LIES!
About Solindra...HE LIES!
About the IRS...HE LIES!
About Bengazi...HE LIES!
About the VA...HE LIES!
About domestic spying...HE LIES!
About Global Warming HE LIES!
About Healthcare HE LIES!
About Illegal Immigration HE LIES!
About gun control HE LIES!
About the EPA HE LIES!
About Bowe Bergadahl HE LIES!
About anything About everything...HE LIES!
How much was spent to CLOSE THE BORDER?
How much was spent on al Qaeda, on MANPADs,
on mosques overseas?
That about sums it up!
Problem with this article is that it excuses federal trust funds to a degree. Highways should have been a private-sector affair, not the largest public works project the USA has ever seen.
In 2009, gross receipts for the gasoline tax were $24.6 billion. Every year since, theyve gone up, to the most recent accounting of $25.5 billion. Separate taxes imposed on diesel fuel for the big rigs brings the total sum to $41.3 billion.
For one thing, the U.S. economy had collapsed in 2008, and auto travel (and fuel tax revenue) was recovering from a steep decline. Secondly, the real issue here isn't the tax revenue itself but the tax revenue compared to the growing infrastructure demand.
You have a point, but the construction of Federal roads was a legitimate function of the Federal government going all the way back to the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. The first generation of these was called “post roads,” and they were intended for the delivery of mail by the U.S. Postal Service.
How much of the 787 Billion Stimulus is still unspent and/or unaccounted for that was supposed to take care of all that?
This is just another manufactured “crisis”.
Only post roads. And the language says “establish”, not fund and maintain.
When they were handing out all that money to the states, many cities put in those plant bed things in what should have been a turn lane. Made the other lanes smaller. Then had to hire a specialist at $50K per year plus perks, to take care of the plants. I can buy the side walk ramps. And a repave of a bad road, but not some stupid planter. That was not well thought out, sticks to far out and makes a left turn hard to make with out getting into the wrong lane...accidents have increased at that intersection, now it has cameras to boot. This is a small town of less than 6000.
In this case, please note:
User taxes are deposited in the General Fund of the Treasury and the amounts equivalent to these taxes are then transferred on paper to the HTF. Transfers are made at least monthly on the basis of estimates by the Secretary of the Treasury and later adjusted on the basis of actual tax receipts. Amounts in the HTF in excess of current expenditure requirements are invested in public debt securities. Until October 1, 1998, the securities were interest-bearing and interest from the securities was credited to the fund. Since that time, the HTF balance has been invested in non-interest-bearing securities.
In other words, it's just the government shifting dollars from one pocket to the other...just like the so-called "social security trust fund".
2. The idea of constructing a road that would be used exclusively for the delivery of mail without access by any other user was unheard of -- even in the 1790s.
3. I don't have a problem with privately-owned roads, but there are major flaws in that whole concept and there's a good reason why many of the toll roads that have been sold off to private investors in the last decade have turned into financial disasters.
For the most part there is no creature on the planet filthier than a politician.
Great. We must have more art-in-public-places, mass transit, light rail, bike paths, plantings and assorted other “having-nothing-to-do-with-cars-traveling-on-highways” crap. Up taxes...this is a crisis!!!!
Maybe a third of the gasoline taxes returns to the roads and bridges - after the over paid federal desk sitters divert/ waste the rest on their new remodeled offices, Las Vegas trips & other perks , high speed rail, bike trails, etc.
They are starting to turn many regular roadways into automated tollways using license plate readers. This cannot stand. It sets a horrible precedent.
False premise. One can establish such roads by law (e.g. desired routes) but have the private sector build and maintain them afterwards. Same with post offices, where charters are issued to private owner/operators.
The private sector owned and operated (and still does) huge interstate railroad networks; the same can be applied to interstate highways. No need to gouge people for taxes to fill a “trust fund” whose end is questionable, never mind being a Ponzi scheme in and of itself. There are no flaws with the concept of privately-owned roadways whatsoever, other than the government regarding it as a flaw when they want control of it. No toll roads given over to private operators have become “financial disasters” eitherthe financial disaster was having them “free” to begin with, and the trust fund is exemplary of the real disaster.
There is plenty of money for interstate highways and bridges if that’s what it were spent on.
These would be government-owned tollways, right? At least the examples of that I’ve seen have been government-owned.
The cameras are there for your safety don’tcha know?
How can one tell? It’s the government doing the collecting and disbursing.
Excusing single payer for highways is a slippery slope towards excuses for single payer healthcare.
No HOV lanes is where they started after tollways and it’s only a matter of tine If no one objects to it. I think they want to head to where they charge you for regular roadway driving. Essentially, the automated license plates gives them a license to rape the public.
cams can’t protect you from accidents caused by those damn islands they installed to far out in the roadway, they should be at least 1.5 feet below what they are installed at, so you can make a SAFE turn in to the correct lane. they just get you a ticket, it is a win-win for any city hurting for money.
I’ve had a beef with normal government tollways myself; double taxation, albeit paying the double tax more directly of course and no “discount” because of the toll. The license-plate scan started with government tollways, and yes, it’s a stepping stone to other government overreach.
Cities hurting for money ought to scrap welfare, taxation and regulation and actually attract jobs in. Then they won’t be hurting for money. (Problem is, those with no moral upbringing will prefer welfare and crime to jobs.)
Your point about the railroads is valid in some ways, but there is a major problem with it: How many of these railroads were constructed using enormous government resources as well as the government's power of eminent domain to forcibly seize private property from its rightful owners?
In terms of privately-owned toll roads and their financial stability ... Did you ever wonder why most of the investors that purchased the long-term leases on these toll roads were foreign companies? It's because institutional investors here in the U.S. were too smart to get involved in them. Having the governor of Indiana running around highlighting his credentials as a smart leader by pointing out how badly he screwed the new "owner" of the Indiana Turnpike makes that point clear.
No; there were many tollways, in fact. One of the more poignant ones was the Middlesex and Essex Turnpike in New Jersey, which got converted into the Pennsylvania Railroad’s main line (today’s Northeast Corridor). Many toll bridges too, never mind tolled ferries.
International companies took over government toll roads here because of the bidding process that excluded domestic companies, never mind the regulatory bias against domestic companies. When the government controls the playing field, they tend to play favorites. Same goes for commuter rail and transit bus contracts, which favor foreign companies also.
Maybe yes, maybe no, you would need to take it up with Ike and a (mostly) long dead congress.
One thing that can NOT be disputed is that the Interstate Highway System transformed the country. It's allowed a freedom to travel, as well as to ship goods, easier and substantially faster than what it replaced. A trip from Kansas City to New York can be accomplished in less than 24 hours taking I-70 from KC to PA, then through the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Delaware Water Gap, then on through NJ, which takes you right to NYC. Before the Interstates, it took narly three times as long, since the older system takes the driver through major metropolitan areas, i.e. stop-lights.
Comparing interstate highways to either the old US highway system, or even worse, to State highways is simply impossible.
More importantly, it was a different time. The public was more trusting of the government, probably with very good reason.
I don’t think I need to take it up with a government that no longer exists, especially if today’s government is perpetuating the fraud and thus keeping it alive. (Does this mean I have to take up the welfare state problem with LBJ and his congress? or Amtrak with Nixon and his congress?) Single-payer highwaycare was always going to hit this wall; watch it happen to single-payer airportcare too.
The interstate highway system did not “transform” the country any more than any other transportation mode. Unless the argument is that it made the country more liberal. I suspect that different effects would have come about if the project were 100 percent built, owned and funded by the private sector. People’s trust in government, whether justified or not (history suggests not), was the problem there too, especially when the lessons from the Founding Fathers were ignored then as they are today.
In Austin and other smaller cities, the turn lanes are being widened and lengthened at major intersections. There are several in Williamson county that have had major construction projects as of late. It is a pain now, but should help traffic flow.
BUT, they are adding bike lanes to many roads. I think people riding bikes should pay a bike tax, since the state or city added and restriped the road for them alone. Also in Austin, they used one lane of traffic on several major north to south roads for sole use by city busses. Driving in that lane will get you a $500 ticket.
Typical liberal scam
Didn’t we do two infrastructure stimuli already?
In terms of the private toll road situation today, your statement about the exclusion of domestic companies is flat-out wrong. Trust me -- if Goldman Sachs wanted to lease the Indiana Turnpike on behalf of its clients, it could do so tomorrow. It would probably get a preferential option for it, too.
The major reasons why foreign companies dominated these bids were:
1. These investors saw these toll roads as an opportunity to get their hands on a fairly predictable cash flow in U.S. dollars. You'll notice that many of these transactions took place right around the same time as the controversy about foreign-owned companies buying leases on U.S. port terminals. For these investors, the deal was as much about a currency exchange hedge as it was about long-term value as you and I might measure it.
2. Smart U.S. investors stayed away from these deals because they knew there was a huge risk that couldn't be measured accurately and was effectively unlimited: lawsuits. In a nation where 30,000+ people die in motor vehicle accidents every year, and where it sometimes seems like there are more lawyers than people, acquiring an ownership stake in a major highway is one of the dumbest investment decisions you can ever make. The private owner of the road immediately becomes a potential target in a civil lawsuit every time a crash occurs on the road, and since the road is now a "private" asset instead of a "public" thoroughfare the private owner doesn't have the protection of sovereign immunity that a government would have. In fact, there was a landmark court case in Indiana relating to this very issue just in the last year or two -- and the private company that holds the lease on the road lost the case.
P.S. I agree with most of what you’ve posted here. I’m not a fan of government involvement in most of these things, but the history of the development of transportation infrastructure in the U.S. is riddled with examples of how seriously flawed the whole idea of “private ownership” actually is.
I don’t see any flaws; all I see is government ownership where the private sector would have sufficed/would suffice.
You don’t believe that foreign owners of toll roads are subject to being sued?
Of course the foreign owners of these toll roads are subject to civil lawsuits. My point was that because those countries are used to doing business in places where they're not subject to those kinds of risks, they didn't look at these risks with the same level of heightened scrutiny that U.S. investors did.
So you’re saying that US railroads have to be owned by the federal government to be deregulated? That is absurd. The example of Conrail (the other federal railroad) speaks to the very opposite. Same goes for the USRA, the federal takeover of all railroads that was a disaster until they were put back in private hands.
In addition, the regulations only existed to destroy the railroads ultimately, which was coupled with the federal government “competing” against them with the road mode. There is no benefit to any government involvement whatsoever.
So the answer here is that government ownership outright is better than crony “capitalism” aka de-facto government ownership?
And these guys run PSAs, ‘Feed the Pig,’ urging the public to conserve money and maintain savings funds for future needs. My response: “ You start doing it FIRST, A-holes!!”
Thanks for that. All the pro-highway types, no matter what they self-identify as, never point out that the money goes into and comes out of the general fund before even seeing the “trust fund” so-called. This 58-year-old Ponzi scheme is nearing self-destruction.
Those cameras aren’t there for safety. I rang the bells on them years ago after doing research and connecting the dots with politicians, the red light / speeding camera manufacturers and their donations, lobbyists, and the PR firms which distributed propaganda with skewed facts that were funded by the those same companies. I found so many instances where the same politicians (on both local and state levels) that pushed hard for the cameras were receiving rather large donations from those companies via PACs that were tied to them. One of the tactics I observed is that the PR firms would oversensationalize any accidents they could find where a red light runner struck a vehicle carrying children that was reported on a website like yahoo.com or MSN.com then post comments about how a red light cam would have prevented. Of course the leftist lemmings oukd always jump on board (which I bet they loved) and then they would run polls showing that the public wanted red light cams. This stuff worked great on mush headed city council members hich then set the stage for red light / speeding camera manufacturers / administrators to approach a city and give their spiel (after stuffing their pockets first with “donations” of course.
We all know those cams aren’t there to protect us so yank’em down.
My data showed that the red light cams actually caused more accidents from people slamming on their brakes and getting rear ended trying to keep from running them especially hen they shortened the yellow lights but a lot of them got busted for that so they had to correct it. Of ourselves their revenue went down pretty drastically after that
No, my point is that Federal regulation of the railroad industry is so broad and intrusive that it makes no sense to use the railroad industry as an example of a successful application of private ownership of transportation assets.
Good example there. That seems like a perfect case thqat demonstrates the need for anti-trust regulations.
The taxation and regulation came long after the establishment of said private railroads. It was not concurrent with their appearance.
This post is complete baloney from start to finish. Federal regulation of the railroads was tied to three indisputable facts that have nothing to do with "destroying the railroads ultimately":
1. When railroads first extended beyond state borders, they became subject to legitimate Federal oversight under the U.S. Constitution as an industry involved in interstate commerce. This may seem outlandish today, but for the first few decades of the country's existence there was no such thing as a corporation that was formed under Federal law. Every corporation was a state corporation, and a railroad could only operate within the borders of the state where it was incorporated. Railroads literally had to trans-load their freight from one train to another at a state border and hand it off to another railroad company for the next stage of its trip. With the advent of multi-state corporations, the Federal government became the regulatory body for the railroad industry by default because state laws could not address legal disputes between shippers and railroad companies for business that was conducted across state lines.
2. The Federal regulation of the railroad industry reached a point that would be considered excessive in almost any other industry because a private company with an enormous fixed transportation infrastructure that serves other businesses effectively functions as a monopoly for many of its customers. The Federal regulation -- for better or for worse -- is an implicit recognition that this monopoly arrangement for the railroad industry is unavoidable in this type of industry. As a point of fact, this is the same rationale for the heavy government regulation of public utilities with fixed transmission assets and no real competition.
3. Despite the monopoly/regulation arrangement I described in #2, the railroad industry in the U.S. still presented major risks to the economic well-being of the country. In the early years of the Dow Jones Industrial Index, almost every company in the index was either a railroad or a major railroad customer. In the latter decades of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century there were a number of cases of financial/economic disasters in the country that were caused by a disruption by a single railroad (a strike or other labor action, for example). Quite simply, it was recognized by people in positions of authority all over the country that the railroad industry had become too powerful, and represented a threat to the economic stability of the nation. The establishment of the first Federal highway system around the time of the first World War was specifically intended to provide a measure of competition to the railroad industry by promoting the growth of a trucking industry that was more flexible and had much lower barriers to entry than the railroads.
Understood. See my last point for an expansion on my point.
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