Gov 101 and the gas tax
It is difficult to disagree with the Oct. 14 editorial “Flunking Gov 101,” concerning the inability of Congress to find funds for roads and rails on time.
But it failed to mention the obvious remedy: Congress should stop funding surface transportation and let the states do it. This was envisaged in the 1956 legislation which set up the federal Highway Trust Fund. It stipulated that, within three years of the completion of the Interstate Highway System, fuel taxes would be abolished and highway financing returned to the states.
The states are in a better position to assess their transportation needs and to know what their users and taxpayers are prepared to pay.
And costs are lower when there is no federal involvement.
Gabriel Roth, Chevy Chase The writer is a transportation economist.
I wholeheartedly agree with the suggestion in the Oct. 14 editorial “Flunking Gov 101” to raise the federal gas tax to fund improvements in the national transportation system. Even doubling the 18.4 cents-per-gallon tax would hardly affect the average driver. Conservatively assuming the average driver drives 12,000 miles a year and the average vehicle gets 20 miles per gallon, an additional 18.4 cents per gallon would cost the average driver $110.40 a year or just $9.20 per month. But assuming 75 million vehicles, doubling the tax would raise nearly $8.28 billion per year.
Given the state of our roads, isn’t $9.20 a month worth it?
Jon Brandt, Washington
That lawmakers are afraid to raise a tax is not entirely a bad thing. Indexing a much-needed gas tax increase to inflation throws gas on a fire. Lawmakers would never have to take responsibility for their actions, and that tax will rise forever. It will become a target for rapacious lawmakers who may believe the roads are fine so let’s use that money elsewhere. IOUs for the Social Security Trust Fund anyone?
This idea flunks Econ 101.
Bill Fowkes, Vienna