Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Time to Eliminate the Federal Gas Tax

The Federal Gas Tax must go. It is part of the rent-seeking bog that has mired our Congress in excessive spending, and provides the murkiest pool of funds for pork barrel projects. It serves virtually no national interest and it wastes the time of lawmakers and federal officials.

I am not proposing a tax cut. I would fully expect most every state to increase their gas taxes to make up for the lost funds from federal transportation outlays. The point is for individual states to make decisions on transportation spending, and remove the bulk of funds that Congress hands out with a wink and a nod to friends, donors, and the well connected.

Many have attacked earmarks with good cause, but there are still those that defend them. The defenses go something like this:

“I was sent to Congress to fight for my state/district and make sure we get our fair share of federal funds”


“The citizens in my state/district would rather have their elected officials work for them instead of relying on some bureaucrat”

Should individual states get their fair share of gas tax revenue? Yes, by never sending the money to Washington in the first place.

Who should decide how gas tax revenue in Delaware be spent? The people of Delaware. If Oklahoma wants to build freeways, then let them use their own money. If Oregon wants no freeways and only light rail, then let them use their own money. Funding should not be based on the seniority of a state’s congressional delegation. It should be decided with the reasonable judgment of those who are most familiar with state transportation needs: The State governments.

The bumbling bureaucrats and the arcane funding formulas give incentives for every state and city to maximize their funding by kowtowing to the rules and not strictly looking out for the interests of their local citizens. If these defenders of pork are right, state governments would be vastly superior at appropriating gas tax funds than the federal government. When a state government is using their own money there will be far fewer “Bridges to Nowhere”. It is only when they are trying to game the system that idiotic projects of that ilk are enacted.

Federal Gas Tax dollars are a cesspool of corruption. They waste time and misappropriate transportation dollars around the country. The Federal Gas Tax must go!

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