No need for a federal gas tax hike

  • 22 March 2019
  • NormanL

One item in the president's budget proposal is for the federal government to spend upwards of $200 billion dollars over the next decade on infrastructure. While this fits with Mr. Trump's campaign promise to improve the quality of the nation's roads, bridges, ports, and so on, there is a question of how to pay for it. 

Congressional Democrats are angling for a big hike in the federal gasoline tax, which has been flat since 1993. But the real concern is President Trump might be willing to go along. While the president's views may have changed in the last year, the idea the federal government needs to raise its gas tax gets a big thumbs down from Cato's Chris Edwards:

...increasing federal gas taxes and federal infrastructure spending is a bad idea. For one thing, the vast majority of government infrastructure is owned by the states, including 98 percent of all U.S. streets and highways. The states have many options to finance their highways and other infrastructure including state gas taxes, sales taxes, debt, user charges, public-private partnerships, and privatization.

A federal gas tax hike makes no sense because states can raise their own gas taxes anytime they want. Indeed, half the states have raised their gas taxes in just the past six years...

There's also the idea of political accountability -- not just for the tax hikers, but for the transportation projects they say they want to build with all that new money. The federal goverment certainly can help pay for the biggest projects. But when it comes to paving local streets, leave that -- and the taxes -- to the government closest to the people.