Skip to comments.Five Reasons Not to Raise the Gas Tax
Posted on 07/05/2014 8:12:09 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
The federal Highway Trust Fund is running out of money, and some senators have proposed to fix the problem by raising gas taxes. This, however, is the wrong solution because it treats the symptom, and not the underlying reason for the shortfall. Here are five reasons for not increasing gas taxes.
1. The problem is not a shortage of funds but an excess of spending.
For more than 50 years after Congress created the Highway Trust Fund in 1956 it was able to avoid a shortage of funds by a simple measure: it didn't spend more than was collected in gas taxes. That changed in 2008, when tax revenues declined due to the financial crisis but Congress continued to spend as if the revenues were growing.
Since 2008, Congress has had to replenish the trust fund with $55 billion in general funds. This isn't, however, a subsidy to highways; in the last decade, Congress has diverted well over $55 billion of gas taxes to non-highway projects.
Increasing the gas tax would simply allow Congress to increase spending on often-frivolous projects that do nothing for highway travelers, with no guarantee that it would keep spending below revenues. Thus, in two or three years we would be likely to see the fund once again run out of money.
2. Our highway infrastructure isn't crumbling.
Contrary to popular reports, our highways and bridges are in great shape. Despite the fact that Congress has diverted well over a fifth of gas taxes to non-highway projects, the number of bridges considered "structurally deficient" has declined by more than 50 percent since 1990 and the average smoothness of our roads has increased every year.
(Excerpt) Read more at huffingtonpost.com ...
What? A HuffPo writer doesn’t want to pay more taxes? I think that this one would hit his own wallet hard.
The federal Highway Trust Fund is running out of money because of liberals sucking it off for bike trails, hiking baths and green belts and that’s just a start.
If you figure how much of the highway trust fund is spent on prevailing wage contracts, state sales taxes and mitigation fees...we would have a lot more highways and less waste. Eliminate that waste first and then talk to us about what the rate of taxation needs to be.
Randal O’Toole is actually with the Cato Institute.
That’s actually one of Mr. O’Toole’s arguments.
Stop spending OPM (other peoples’ money), libtards.
My apologies, in that case.
He wants YOU to pay the taxes. Because YOU are the problem.
He, of course, should remain aloof and exempt!
” in 1956 it was able to avoid a shortage of funds by a simple measure: it didn’t spend more than was collected in gas taxes. “
what a concept!
I believe Mr. O’Toole is a libertarian, not an limousine liberal.
A few years back Karl Levin was seeking several million dollars out of transportation money to save part of Tiger Stadium in Detroit. He didn’t get it thank God.
The states and local governments do their fair share of feeding at the trough too. Just a few months ago my county was approved for $2 million from transportation funds to tear down a wall in a county park. Fortunately the public went ballistic over it and they decided to put the money into repairing roads. They did still used a couple hundred grand to repave the bike path through the hood.
When the lefties advocate for no tax increase you know its bad.
Feel kinda dirty agreeing with anything in the ‘Huff-poo’.
Then again you know what they say about a broken clock...
Geeze Louise, it’s getting so a person can’t post without knowing the facts, anymore. LOL!
1. Liberals like it
Like we need any more reasons to not want something.
What's happened in recent decades is that the process for earmarking Federal funds for local projects has eliminated under a Congressional mandate. In its place, the Federal government has adopted a system of allocating Federal money for projects based on various measures of needs, priorities, etc. So the new game in town is to find state and local projects that could easily be financed through traditional funding measures, and look for ways to turn them into projects of "national importance" in order to get a large Federal match for them.
One issue is that what constitutes "national importance" changes over time. Highway safety is a big issue now, so any project that can be considered a safety improvement gets pushed up a project priority list. The same goes for something like "sustainability" and "resiliency," whatever the hell those are supposed to mean.
The basic problem here is that transportation is one of those areas of government where it's not practical to come up with a funding mechanism where the users pay directly for their use of the system. Tolls and transit fares are the closest you can get, and there are challenges and shortcomings with both of them.
Does that mean a new meaningless buzzword is going to replace the meaningless “Sustainability”? Has “Sustainability hit its apogee and is finally going to crash back into Earth? One can only hope.
OT — I took my daughter out to dinner a few weeks back and our waitress (excuse me, “wait person”) was blathering on and on about how all the menu items were sustainable. I casually observed that the human race has managed to sustain itself before “sustainability” became all the rage. I pointed out that we’ve sustained ourselves pretty well before anybody taught us how to do so.
Boy, did she get all hot, huffy and indignant! She erupted with a “This means a lot to me. I studied it extensively at school.” It was all I could do to keep from busting a gut laughing at this clueless young dolt — but I kept my composure so my daughter wouldn’t think I’m the old curmudgeon that I really am.
Needless to say, her tip was minuscule. And my daughter probably thinks I’m a curmudgeon anyway.
I cannot believe that a Cato Institute writer is advocating mandatory tracking of mileage on cars for purposes of tax collection.
I don’t like gas taxes, and I pay more per mile than most, but the alternatives are worse.
Don’t forget, light rail...
They finally waive the sales tax on road construction in Washington State.
The next thing down the pipe is trip taxes. Wsdot is starting pilot programs in a couple of years and I expect it to be a mandate to all states probably by the 2016 Highway spending bill and to be fully implemented by 2020.
Is there MORE Than ONE????????????????????
Devil’s advocate here: how does one account for electric car usage? At some point this will be an issue. Personally I am for a libertarian view: abolish the tax an impose tolls. If you use it, pay for it. If you wish to drive on state roads they tax me enough.
That's good to hear. Such sales taxes are just another way to plunder transportation funds for other purposes. At least here, in Maryland, they just outright steal the money; the thievery is more honest than with a sales tax ruse.
The cost of toll booth operation is extremely high and inefficient. More efficient systems require tracking (ipass). Putting tolls on every publoc road would make those problems worse.
For electric cars, there could be a special charge either on the home meter for Leaf type cars, or at recharge stations for CA and Tesla type cars. Nike the sibsidy before you worry about collecting those.
Gas taxes are a proxy for mileage taxation.
We rebuilt our waste water treatment plant ($19.4 M) and the building permit was $100,000 which supposedly covered plan reviews and all the required inspection time. As the public works director I challenged that cost as the funding agencies didn’t allow for permit costs but it did allow for inspections. So we paid the permit up front out of existing sewer reserves and each month the submitted the inspection costs for reimbursement. At the end of the project we only had actual costs of less than $30,000.
That caused the city to re-examine their permit fees!
Thing is, there’s no gas tax on non gas cars. My electric runabout car pays no taxes (worse, state pays me a lot to use it).
THIS came from Huffington post???
That person needs to refresh their resume immediately and have it printed out Monday morning.
They even committed the grievous sin of contradicting dear leader. Every other speech is about “our crumbling roads and bridges” even after the trillions of dollars on “shovel ready” stimulus spending.
It’s not all one sided.
You must remember the true goal of progressives is to get us out of our personal vehicles and into public transpo.
So letting the roads go to he!! is a good approach to accomplish that.
Try this site if you have an aversion to HufPost. It's conservative.
Randal O'Toole doesn't control where his articles get posted.
He forgot to mention that higher taxes on gas has a trickle down effect of causing consumer goods to go up in price. Someone has to pay to get the goods to market and the businesses will pass it along to the consumer.