“The country desperately needs additional funding for infrastructure and, for the moment, there is no better means than the fuel tax. The proposed increase is well overdue and in line with what most experts suggest would be appropriate,” stated Kathleen Bower, vice president of public affairs for the automobile club about H.R. 3636, written by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) that would almost double the current 18.4 cent gas tax over three years and tie future increases to inflation.
And she is far from alone, as we noted on Dec. 4. Inevitably, any attempt to increase taxes will encounter opposition, and Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, addressed it, reports Ashley Halsey III.
“It is time to be honest with ourselves and with the American people,” said O’Sullivan, who supported Blumenauer’s proposal. “Partisan rhetoric knee-jerk reaction and anti-tax extremism will not solve this problem or make it go away.”
Blumenauer encountered that reaction in a fiery interview with Neil Cavuto of Fox News who insisted that gas tax money and tolls go to other sources. The "lock box", as Cavuto refers to the Highway Trust Fund, goes the other way, though, with $50 billion drained from the federal general fund to subsidize road spending, as H.R. 3636 indicates.
Blumenauer's explanation that “with inflation and increased fuel efficiency, the average motorist is paying about half as much per mile as they did in 1993”, the last time the federal gas tax was raised, fell on deaf ears.
And reception hasn't been good with readers of the congressman's hometown newspaper either. According to a reader poll in The Oregonian, as of Sunday night, only 23% believe that Congress should raise the federal gas tax.
In Washington, D.C., it may not be faring much better. “Nobody, the administration, no Republican or Democratic leaders in Congress, have come forward,” said Blumenauer, reports WAMU's Martin DiCaro for Transportation Nation.