The Fiscal Times: Report: Eric Pianin: Senator John Thune’s Thorny Political Test: Pass the Highway Bill

The Fiscal Times: Report: Eric Pianin: Senator John Thune’s Thorny Political Test: Pass the Highway Bill

If Congress were under different and I would just state wiser leadership funding the Highway Trust Fund wouldn’t be that big of a deal. But since we have a Republican House of Representatives that is essentially run by the Tea Party where nothing gets funded or fixed unless their key issues are addressed and generally issues not relating to the current issue like the Highway Trust Fund and since the Tea Party House and their Republican allies in the Senate won’t fund anything that doesn’t come with budget cuts into areas they believe government shouldn’t be funding to begin with, Congress the House and Senate aren’t able to fix problems that 15-20 years ago they wouldn’t have many if any issues addressing.

Tax increases are obviously not the cure to every problem. And in many cases can cause bigger problems especially when they are passed onto people who can’t afford them. Which is why I generally do not support income tax increases on anyone other than people who are doing very well. But in large part we do not fund our infrastructure through the income or payroll tax. We fund our infrastructure though the gas tax and other energy taxes. And we could fund them though mileage standards and taxing low-efficient vehicles more than high-efficient vehicles. Besides the gas tax is a fee that drivers pay to use our highways. So if that fund needs more money to pay for them it makes perfect sense to raise that tax.

But again we have a Tea Party Republican controlled House and even though we have a Democratic controlled Senate that does believe in things like infrastructure investment even paying for it and not borrowing the money there is a large enough Republican minority to block them. So we are caught in a position of what program to cut that hurts which population of people who need that money. Or not doing one of the few things that Congress is supposed to do by law which is fund our highways.

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