Highway Trust Fund

Gas Pains: Taxpayers Are Running Low on Fuel

Pumping Gas

At a Gasman station just outside of Middletown, Connecticut, Democrat Sen. Chris Murphy’s constituents can fill up their tanks for $1.99 a gallon.

Drivers 966 miles away in Republican Sen. Bob Corker’s state of Tennessee can fill up their tanks at the old Pilot on Interstate-40 for less even less: $1.69 a gallon.

In 39 other states across the nation, drivers can find at least one station selling gas for less than two dollars while Americans enjoy the lowest gas prices in decades – and a couple extra Benjamins in their wallets from paying less at the pump.

Unfortunately, it appears that, for every step forward, taxpayers get shoved two steps back.

Recent proposals from a handful of Washington insiders, including Sens. Corker and Murphy, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), James Inhofe (R-Ok.), and John Thune (R-S.D.) have included gas tax hikes to fix the crumbling 59-year-old Highway Trust Fund (HTF), a source of revenue for the interstate highway fund that will expire in May.

Today in Liberty: NSA spying damages the United States’ reputation as a beacon of freedom, crony Ex-Im pals pressure Boehner

“So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear. That there is no alternative way, so far discovered, of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by a free enterprise system.” — Milton Friedman

— Land of the Free?: The disclosures about the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs have damaged the world’s view of the United States as a country that protects individual liberties. “In 22 of 36 countries surveyed in both 2013 and 2014, people are significantly less likely to believe the U.S. government respects the personal freedoms of its citizens. In six nations, the decline was 20 percentage points or more,” Pew Research notes. “Still, the U.S. has a relatively strong reputation for respecting personal freedoms compared with the other major nations tested on the survey. A median of 58% believe the American government respects individual liberties, while 56% say this about France, 36% about China, and only 28% say it about the Russian government.” Notice that Brazil and Germany, two countries on which the U.S. reportedly spied, are at the top of the list.

Today in Liberty: House Republican Leadership elections are today, terrible bipartisan idea to hike the gas tax on the horizon

“The more the state ‘plans,’ the more difficult planning becomes for the individual.” — F.A. Hayek

— Raul Labrador makes his case for Majority Leader: Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) pitched his candidacy on Wednesday for House Majority Leader to his fellow Republicans. “If you have an idea, I want to empower you to take it through committee. You will not always succeed, but I want you to feel like you had a fair shot. I want members of Congress to be more relevant than the staff. Why are we even here if the leadership staff is going to make all decisions any way?” Labrador asked, according to prepared remarks. “I want the process to work. If bills pass, they must pass on their merits. I don’t want any more SGR bills passing on voice votes, Transportation/Postal Reform deals that nobody has heard of, NSA reform bills that pass a committee unanimously and are changed and watered down in the Rules committee.” He also said that he wants bill text posted online for at least 72 hours before the House votes and for the Republicans to keep their pledge to “reform Congress and restore trust,” asking his colleagues if they believed that they’d followed through on that promise. “If you vote for the status quo [on Thursday], you will prove that we are still not listening,” said Labrador. “We will break our pledge and with that we may lose the ability to regain control of the Senate and eventually win the Presidency.” The vote is schedule for today. We’ll have the results posted as soon as they’re available. Courtsey of Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), you can get an idea of how some House Republicans plan to vote.

Get Washington out of the way: Let states decide how transportation dollars will be spent

There another showdown on spending looming on Capitol Hill. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee gave its stamp of approval this afternoon to reauthorize the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act, the six-year, $265 billion transportation bill:

This bill reauthorizes the federal gas tax, which collects $34 billion a year. That would provide $204 billion over the next six years, which is not enough to pay for the projects the panel wants to fund.

The Senate Finance Committee will have to look at other funding mechanisms to make up the difference. 
[…]
The Senate measure would prevent the gas tax from expiring in the in the fall, if it is approved by the House and signed into law.

The House, however, has yet to take significant action on a transportation bill, and some observers are skeptical a deal could be carved out.

It’s less than the four-year, $302 billion transportation bill that President Barack Obama proposed in February. That proposal would have paid for the funding shortfall through the closing of corporate tax loopholes. Both proposals, however, are problematic because they still push a centralized approach to transportation, one that’s obviously broken given that the federal Highway Trust Fund doles out more than it receives in federal gas tax revenue.


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