Dems Still Considering Gas Tax Increase
House Transportation Committee Chair Jim Oberstar continues to press for a gas tax increase. He believes that a tax hike of a dime per gallon will be necessary to pay for highway construction next year because the “Highway Trust Fund” is running on empty. I called Oberstar’s office and asked if he thought the trust fund would last longer if he didn’t spend more than it took in. He said he didn’t understand the question.
Last year President Bush slammed Oberstar and the committee:
“From my perspective, the way it seems to have worked is that each member on that committee gets to set his or her own priority first, and then whatever is left over is spent through a funding formula.”
In September, Porkbusting Senator Tom Coburn identified $2 billion worth of earmarks in this year’s transportation and housing authorization plus an additional $6 billion to be paid on prior authorizations. Oberstar should go after that money before coming after ours.
Of course, highway spending isn’t the only thing leading Democrats to press for gas tax increases. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair John Dingell repeatedly proposes a 50 cent gas tax increase to combat global warming. At least, he’s claiming the purpose is to fight global warming. When he first proposed the increase in August 2007, the average price of a gallon of gasoline was $2.80. It is now $4.10 and we have a much better idea of how gas prices influence driving habits. Dingell’s proposal hasn’t changed. His accountants agree: 50 cents sounds like the right amount.