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May 10, 2014 4:42 PM Begging for Transportation Dollars

By Martin Longman

What happened right after 1993 that caused Congress to never raise the gasoline tax again?

Lawmakers in both parties have been reluctant to raise the 18.4-cent-a-gallon federal gasoline and 24.4-cent diesel taxes that are the main sources of revenue for the Highway Trust Fund. Neither tax has been raised since 1993. In the two decades since then, inflation has driven up construction costs and the amount of revenue flowing into the fund has lagged because motorists are driving less and vehicles are more fuel efficient. The reluctance to hike the fuel taxes has left the fund constantly teetering on the edge of insolvency.

Oh, yes, that’s right. The Gingrich Revolution, followed by the complete triumph of the Grover Norquist anti-tax pledge.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has said the federal Highway Trust Fund is expected run dry by late August. Without congressional action, transportation aid to states will be delayed and workers will be laid off at construction sites nationwide, Foxx said.
To that end, the White House will spend next week highlighting the issue and pressing for action. In contrast to President Barack Obama’s 2014 goal to act without Congress wherever he can, the highway funding issue is not one he can solve on his own.

The president and vice-president will dot the country highlighting worthy transportation projects in an effort to get the Republicans in Congress to pay for the upkeep of our national infrastructure.

That this is even necessary is sad. That it might not work is scary.

Martin Longman is the Web Editor for the Washington Monthly and main blogger at Booman Tribune. He has worked as community organizer for ACORN/Project Vote and as a political consultant for Democracy for America.

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