Gov 101 and the gas tax

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION -

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

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