Hard Choices: Raising Federal Fuel Taxes

Gas Prices

How an unpopular move by Congress could be the only way to save the Highway Trust Fund. Welcome back Congress!



Who doesn’t love low gas prices?


Low gas prices have been a saving grace for most that were traveling during this holiday season. While the lower gas prices didn’t boost holiday spending, it does however create consumer confidence, which helps everyone in the long run. But like all good things, even record low gas prices may have to come to an end.


The incoming chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota, had hinted yesterday that raising federal fuel taxes would be on the table when considering replenishing the Highway Trust Fund. As you may know – or may not, I don’t judge – the Highway Trust Fund is a federal fund paid for by the federal fuel tax. The fund basically pays for the upkeep and new additions to America’s interstate highway system.


The problem?


The legislation for the Highway Trust Fund expires in May and before then Congress has to figure out a way to replenish the fund. The easiest way to do this would be raising federal fuel taxes – which haven’t been touched since 1993 – but Congress knows they aren’t the most popular group at the moment. Raising gas prices by increasing the federal fuel tax won’t have them winning any congeniality contests.


So a tough choice has to be made. Does a the new 114th Congress bring on public scorn by raising the federal fuel tax (which in turn raises the price of gas) to close the Highway Trust Fund gap or do they let road projects suffer while they figure out alternative methods to fund the Highway Trust Fund?


Good luck with that 114th Congress.


simpsons rock and a hard place



(Photo Credits: Associated Press and Google Images)


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