Want good roads? RAISE THE GAS TAX by 12 cent-per-gallon!

HERE IS WHAT RUSH HOLT (D-REP FROM NJ) JUST WROTE IN HIS NEWSLETTER. Just think about what is paid for gasoline tax in Germany as compared to the US.

On Tuesday, the House passed a bill to fund the Highway Trust Fund. Since 1956, nearly all federal surface transportation funding has come from the Highway Trust Fund, which is mostly funded by a federal tax of 18.4-cents-per-gallon on gasoline. It covers highway construction and repairs as well as public transit. Because this tax has not been raised since 1993, it has lost 40 percent of its value to inflation, which in turn has led to failure to make needed investments in our nation’s infrastructure. The Urban Land Institute estimates that we need $2 trillion to fix and upgrade our nation’s roads and bridges. Not surprisingly, the American Society of Civil Engineers gives America’s roads a grade of “D.”

At the start of next month, the Highway Trust Fund will go broke, and in October, the authority to start new projects or repairs will expire.

The solution is simple: we should increase the gas tax—a step that even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports. And with interest rates at nearly zero percent, now is the time to invest in public works, like roads, which will pay economic benefits for generations to come. A 12 cent-per-gallon increase would restore the tax to where it was. Although this is not negligible, the cost of a gallon of gas has gone up and down by more than that in the past few months.

I voted against this week’s legislation to fund highway projects for only eight months, a short-term measure that was paid for with phony accounting gimmicks. Specifically, the bill depends on businesses underfunding pensions and thus taking smaller tax deductions for their pension contributions, hardly a practice the government should encourage in this time of pension shortfalls. The bill lacked the foresight required for highways and public transportation projects, which by their very nature are long-term. Yet again, the U.S. House of Representatives finds itself governing by crisis and delay, delay and crisis — not foresight — sacrificing jobs and economic development.

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