Ed. Note: The electorate spoke clearly in November. They want less Federal control and regulations. We want to empower the States to be more in control of our lives than the Federal government. The peoples' vision of a debt-free future is a positive one, and more Federal taxes on gasoline do not fit. Republished from The Washington Examiner, by Sean Higgins, January 13, 2015.
Politicians and pundits have spent a great deal of time trying to find the precise meaning of the results of the 2014 election. No one disputes that it was a great day for Republicans, but there are still many valid and varying interpretations.
But whether the election was a true mandate for the GOP or simply a repudiation of President Obama, voters most certainly did not hand Republicans the U.S. Senate and elect them to a historic House majority so that they could raise federal gasoline taxes.
This should really go without saying, but some Republicans are already discussing this as a real possibility. Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., have all been quoted discussing a gas tax hike as a serious possibility.
In their defense, this tax is not like most others. The government collects a fixed amount rather than a percentage of sales, so that over time the tax declines with inflation. The 18.4 cents per gallon imposed does not go as far today as it did when it was set at that level more than two decades ago. Even so, members of Congress would still be wrong to take the recent plunge in oil prices as an invitation to put a hand in drivers’ pockets.
In defending a gas tax increase, Inhofe remarked to The Hill that “a lot of states are doing that on their own because ‘well if the federal government won’t do it we’ve got to do something about the roads.’”
Inhofe is correct on this point — and that’s why a federal gas tax hike makes even less sense now than it usually would. Conservatives have often spoken in the past about devolving responsibility for transportation back to the states. This dream is possible, but not if Congress keeps raising the federal gas tax.
As Inhofe correctly noted, many states — Red, Blue, and Purple ones — have taken matters into their own hands. Federal aid is uncertain nowadays and will only become less certain in the context of growing entitlement spending. It is harder today for Congress to produce another controversial, pork-laden transportation bill like the one that expired in 2009. Thus, states and localities have begun finding other ways to take care of their own transportation needs — by tolling or leasing highways, by raising state gas taxes, and by borrowing money.
This is exactly as it should be. Americans surely remain grateful for the original construction of the Interstate highways, but it is no justification for perpetuating the current system, in which fifty states pitch into a national transportation slush fund that gets divided up unequally and returned. The building and maintenance of roads and bridges should be a function of state and local government. Ideally, the residents of each state should decide how to fund it — especially if it requires a tax increase.
To raise the federal gas tax now is to keep control in Washington — the same town so many Republicans campaigned against and called dysfunctional in the election just past. It would send a terrible signal about the party’s sincerity, and about its new majority.
Ed. Note: Republished from The Washington Examiner. CLICK HERE to read the original.
This content is published under the Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Please honor attribution.