As Americans have noted, bailouts can get costly. Europe has just decided on a trillion dollar bailout for their southern European deadbeats member states. Who’s going to pay for all that? In Germany, raising taxes is taboo (for the moment.) Lowering taxes had been one of the wedding vows of the ruling coalition. They didn’t say exactly when, but raising taxes would be politically – not very smart. So how else to raise money? Where else than from our darling piggy bank, the hapless motorist.
Ray LaHood seems to think so. He tells the Dallas-Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
The problem we have is, Congress wants to pass a very robust transportation bill in the neighborhood of $400 billion or $500 billion, and we know the highway trust fund is just deficient in its ability to fund those kinds of projects. The highway trust fund was substantial at one time but now with people driving less, and driving more fuel-efficient cars, it has become deficient. To index the federal fuel tax, that’s something Congress is going to have to decide. As we get into the reauthorization bill, the debate will be how we fund all the things we want to do. You can raise a lot of money with tolling. Another means of funding can be the infrastructural bank. You can sell bonds and set aside money for big projects, multibillion-dollar projects. Another way is (charging a fee to motorists for) vehicle miles traveled. The idea of indexing the taxes that are collected at the gas pump is something I believe Congress will debate. When the gas tax was raised in 1992 or 1993, in the Clinton administration, there was a big debate whether it should be indexed. At that time, they thought there’d be a sufficient amount of money collected. Now we know that isn’t the case. That is one way to keep up with the decline in driving, and more fuel-efficient cars.
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