Infrastructure improvements, such as roads and bridge projects, are among the main components of President Barack Obama’s domestic agenda and they carry a huge price tag. Taxpayers, however, should send kudos to the president for his opposition to increasing the federal fuel tax.
His resistance puts Obama at odds with a suggestion from the unlikely allegiance between AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue, both of whom are pushing for long-term funding of U.S. highway, ports, bridges and railways projects. According to a report on thehill.com, the pair during a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on infrastructure spending called an “appropriate” increase in the federal fuel tax, which is currently 18.4 cents per gallon and has not, Trumka noted, been increased since 1993.
To be fair, Trumka and Donohue have suggested a host of other ways to generate revenue for necessary projects, but the one that would hit taxpayers right in their (shrinking) wallets deserves scrutiny.
There is particular reason for concern if you live in Massachusetts, which, in addition to the federal fuel tax, has a 23.5-center-per-gallon gas tax. That tax, by the way, includes a 2.5-cents-per-gallon Uncertified Securities Tax, enacted under the UST act of 1998. There is also a 6.25-percent sales tax.
Combining the federal and state gas taxes in Massachusetts, you’re looking at 41.9 cents per gallon. Subtract that from rising prices at pumps around the state, and you’re left wondering whether all the fury and blaming aimed at foreign oil is misplaced.
To be sure, the nation’s reliance on other countries for fuel is not financially sound in the long-term. But we have resisted tapping into domestic reserves and have, instead, spent millions upon millions promoting healthier and more environmentally-friendly fuels. Again, perhaps a good thing in the long-term, but that does the average Joe living in the here and now absolutely no good.
Why is there not more outrage over skyrocketing gas prices? Probably because many of us have thrown up the white flag and surrendered to taxes as part of the price of living in America. It doesn’t have to be that way. Tax increases do not have to be the answer every time state and federal lawmakers go looking for ways to fund this project and that.
Donohue, according to thehill.com, told the Senate committee “seventeen years is a long time” to go without raising the federal fuel tax.
Not long enough, it says here.
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