Subject: federal highway funds
A couple of decades ago, I did lobbying and public
relations for the highway industry. Every year,
we did press releases about how many structurally
deficient and functionally obsolete bridges there were,
and sometimes the state legislators would do
the right thing and raise the motor fuel tax so that a greater
percentage of those problems could be addressed.
At the Federal level, it was another story. During
the Reagan Administration, the Federal Motor Fuel Tax
was raised a nickel per gallon (or maybe
it was six cents -- I've slept since then), but Reagan maintained
that it wasn't a "jobs bill," and he was right.
What the Administration did with the new revenue was let it
sit in the Federal Highway Trust Fund and
do nothing, because when those funds were rolled into the
Federal Unified Budget it made the deficit
look smaller. "Voodoo Bookkeeping," you might call it.
The monies in the Federal Highway Trust Fund and
the Airport and Airways Trust Fund are dedicated
user fees, which means they can only be
used for the purposes for which they are collected. The taxes
we pay on motor fuels are meant to build,
maintain and improve our surface transportation systems;
the taxes we pay on our airline tickets
are meant to be used similarly for our airports and airways.
There's a lot of money in the Federal Highway
Trust Fund, and it should be spent. Spending the money
would make highways safer, increase fuel
efficiency, and create thousands of construction jobs. Those
construction workers would spend their money
on food, housing, motor vehicles and consumer goods,
and the economy as a whole would get a
But, no. The Administration would rather sit on
the money and berate Congress for trying to spend
more of it, while the infrastructure crumbles.
We need to ask ourselves: WWFDRD?
By the way, Bush wasn't being magnanimous when
he promised that the Federal government would
help rebuild the Interstate bridge in Minneapolis.
It's a fucking Federal highway -- of COURSE they're
going to help pay for it!
Thanks for the opportunity to vent.
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