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Subject: federal highway funds

Bart --

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 boost.

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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