Monday, February 9, 2015

Raise the gas tax

Or stop building roads to support infinite growth into the suburbs. I’d prefer the latter, but if we’re not going to muster the political will to guard the general funds from TXDOT’s $5 billion-a-year designs, let’s fund them with gas taxes. Raise the penalty for living so far from where you work that doesn’t also hurt people who live close to where they work. That’s done better by taxing gas miles than highways.

Toll roads target heavily used roads like I-10 and SH 1604 that suburban commuters and city dwellers share. And they incidentally push highway traffic onto surface streets, clogging them up and reducing toll revenue. Which defeats the purpose.

Stephen Moore, who recommends toll roads, lays out the case against a gas tax hike at the Daily Signal:

The politicians like to point to studies by road builders and civil engineers that insist America’s infrastructure is crumbling and we must spend hundreds of billions of dollars to fix our roads, highways, bridges and airports. Now there’s an impartial jury. Who do you think is going to get all this money?

Bob Corker adds that we are “just stealing from future generations out of the general funds to pay for infrastructure because Congress is going to fund infrastructure but not in the appropriate way.”

Corker is right that America needs more roads and needs to fix the ones we have to reduce congestion and potholes. But this isn’t because the 18.4-cents-a-gallon gas tax raises too little money—$34 billion a year should be plenty and infrastructure spending is near an all-time high.

The “stealing” that is going on is from the trust fund. Congress siphons tax dollars away from roads to worthless mass transit systems with tiny ridership.

Why should motorists see their gas tax dollars go to transit projects they don’t use?

If Washington would simply devote all gas tax dollars to roads, we wouldn’t need a tax hike.

Don’t be surprised if gas tax hike dollars help fund California’s $68 billion high-speed rail white elephant. The program has been so riddled with cost overruns, it may go down in history as one of the most absurd transportation projects in U.S. history.

There’s no bigger hypocrite when it comes to infrastructure than President Obama. He wants $300 billion for a federal infrastructure fund even as he announces he will veto a bill to create needed pipeline infrastructure and some 42,000 jobs at virtually no cost to taxpayers. Pelosi and Durbin are against Keystone, too.

If they weren’t such unabashed demand-siders, I’d trust them to spend money marked for infrastructure on actual infrastructure. But demand-siders believe in spending money on anything because, whatever it is, spending money on it drives up demand for services and creates jobs. In other words, spending money is their ends, as opposed to a means to building something.

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