Third Party & Independents Archives

Elvis, Ike and Toll Booths

In 1956, Elvis had his 1954 pink-and-white Cadillac and Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 into law in late June. Like Elvis, the Highway Act and it’s needy twin, The Highway Trust Fund, grew and grew and grew. The one in popularity and sales and concerts and films and fame, the other in terms of the tax bite it took from drivers. And nearly 60 years later, the Highway Trust Fund once again needs to cover shortfalls. But both Congress and the general public - which means drivers really - have had enough. And that has GOP legislators, along with Democrats in Congress, casting far and wide to fill the funding gap while letting drivers fill their tanks without any further increases in fuel-related excise taxes. And that means earnings held overseas by U.S. corporations hoping for a reduction in what is a historically and internationally high corporate tax rate are in the sights of Congress. They hope to force repatriation of those earnings and use the collected taxes to top off the Highway Trust Fund and cover shortfalls.

Are they right? No, not the legislators, but drivers who are sick and tired of paying taxes every time they fill up at the pump. Europeans cluck disapprovingly at American energy policy and gasoline prices, but their model of punishing car owners to pay for public transit and highways is just not doable nor should it be if you ask a majority of voters. The Eisenhower Highway Trust Fund was set up as a user-supported fund but changes in the tax structure over the years have meant that part of those taxes you pay at the pump have been siphoned off for other purposes like deficit reduction. Once you open that piggy bank to other grasping hands, it changes the way the tax is viewed. And in fact, funding mass transit has come from those fuel taxes as well. And that happened under Reagan's watch in 1982 and 1984, when a special Mass Transit Account was set up within the HTF itself. So while it is true that in 1997, Congress dedicated the tax back to its original purpose, by breaking the link between fuel taxes and infrastructure in 1990 and 1993, they have left the gas tax unpopular in voters eyes. Which was not the case beforehand.

Grabbing a part of overseas profits - assuming they are repatriated - is a one-time scheme and will not solve highway funding problems on a longer-term basis. Highways need to be built and maintained and that is a continually rising cost. User fees are an economically reasonable way to do that, even if right now they are hated by voters. Maybe it's because gasoline taxes are so visible that they anger voters so much. The other way to fund highways, of course, is to privatize them. Toll booths across the land on every major road and highway. Imagine drivers response.

Posted by AllardK at June 11, 2015 5:27 PM
Comments
Comment #395866


Reagan said we have a spending problem not a revenue problem.

Pelosi said we have a revenue problem not a spending problem.

The Eisenhower Highway Trust Fund was set up as a user-supported fund but changes in the tax structure over the years have meant that part of those taxes you pay at the pump have been siphoned off for other purposes like deficit reduction.

That sounds like you’ve identified the problem, AllardK.


Posted by: Weary Willie at June 12, 2015 1:14 PM
Comment #395883

From this nation’s inception, tax payer dollars have been needed to subsidize transportation services. Never in our history has the transportation sector as a whole produced a profit.

Looking around at our decaying infrastructure, I think I can be quite confident that we aren’t overspending in this regard.

Posted by: Warren Porter at June 15, 2015 9:42 AM
Comment #395885

I guess you overlooked this part.

..taxes you pay at the pump have been siphoned off for other purposes like deficit reduction.
Posted by: Weary Willie at June 15, 2015 12:16 PM
Comment #395886

The gasoline industry receives a profit of 3 cents per gallon whereas the federal government confiscates 18 cents per gallon.

Who’s the greedy ones?

Posted by: Weary Willie at June 15, 2015 12:18 PM
Comment #395892

Source?

Posted by: Warren Porter at June 15, 2015 6:50 PM
Comment #395894
The United States federal excise tax on gasoline is 18.4 cents per gallon (cpg) and 24.4 cents per gallon (cpg) for diesel fuel. On average, as of April 2012, state and local taxes add 31.1 cents to gasoline and 30.2 cents to diesel for a total US average fuel tax of 49.5 cents (cpg) per gallon for gas and 54.6 cents per gallon (cpg) for diesel.
http://www.gaspricewatch.com/web_gas_taxes.php
Using the five-year average markup of 18.9 cents, the typical retailer averages about 3 to 5 cents per gallon in profit.
http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2015/06/12/133747-price-per-gallon-why-who-when.html Posted by: Weary Willie at June 16, 2015 2:55 AM
Comment #395896

The gasoline industry is more than just the retailer that operates the refueling station. There are the refiners, the drillers, the transporters and everyone else too.

Posted by: Warren Porter at June 16, 2015 7:13 AM
Comment #395902

Are you denying or agreeing?

The guy buying the gasoline pays 3 cents to the person selling it and 18 cents to the federal government.

Answer the question: Who’s the greedy ones?

Posted by: Weary Willie at June 16, 2015 12:33 PM
Comment #395907

Nobody is greedier than anyone else. Everyone always chooses what is in his or her own best interest.

Posted by: Warren Porter at June 16, 2015 2:41 PM
Comment #395912

That’s crap, Warren Porter. People who control the money supply chooses what’s in their own best interest. Tell the waitress who relies on the generosity of those they service what she gets to choose. Tell the elderly who suffer the inflationary actions of a bloated government what choices they get to make?

Why are you ignoring my original observation:

The Eisenhower Highway Trust Fund was set up as a user-supported fund but changes in the tax structure over the years have meant that part of those taxes you pay at the pump have been siphoned off for other purposes like deficit reduction.

Quit trying to grease my behind with platitudes and address the 500# gorilla in the room.

Posted by: Weary Willie at June 16, 2015 3:28 PM
Comment #395943
Tell the waitress who relies on the generosity of those they service what she gets to choose.

She gets to choose to be a waitress or to choose a different occupation. It is the ability to make these sorts of choices that is the essence of the liberalism on which our nation was founded.

Why are you ignoring my original observation
Firstly, it was AllardK’s claim, not yours. Secondly, I reiterate my earlier comment:

Source?

Posted by: Warren Porter at June 16, 2015 8:39 PM
Comment #395947
Looking around at our decaying infrastructure, I think I can be quite confident that we aren’t overspending in this regard.
Posted by: Warren Porter at June 15, 2015 9:42 AM

That sounds like you’re completely ignoring the fact that gasoline taxes are being “siphoned off for other purposes”.

Address the real problem, not shove smoke up someone’s behind and tell them you’re curing cancer. If the highway trust fund was used for it’s original purpose, just like social security, there would be more than enough money to get the job done.

Posted by: Weary Willie at June 16, 2015 10:09 PM
Comment #395950

Warren Porter,
You are displaying your ignorance when you reiterate your need for a “source”.

I gave you a source and you discount, no, you ignore it!

I will not be responsible for your ignorance.

Posted by: Weary Willie at June 17, 2015 3:02 AM
Comment #395953

I do not believe a significant portion of the trust fund is used to fund anything unrelated to surface transportation.

Posted by: Warren Porter at June 17, 2015 5:27 AM
Comment #395970

Source?

Posted by: Weary Willie at June 17, 2015 4:58 PM
Comment #395972

You and AllardK are the ones trying to make a point. The onus is on you to provide documentation.

Posted by: Warren Porter at June 17, 2015 10:23 PM
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