March 7, 2014

CNBC: Raise the gas tax?

media mention

(Original Post)




state governments can raise their gas taxes anytime they want to fund their own highways. there’s nothing stopping them. we also need to look at privatization. so in northern virginia where i live, they just widened the capital beltway, a $2 billion project. it’s been a huge success. the money was mainly private money. a private company raised the money, widened the interstate in northern virginia, and the project came in on time and under budget. so we ought to be looking at more privatization like that. the united states is behind most other countries. britain and canada, for example, have more private highways, private airports, and private air-traffic control. that’s where we ought — that’s the direction we ought to be going, not relying on the federal government and washington where it’s often pork barrel politics. but here is the problem, chris, and i hear what you’re saying, my parents live at the end of the dulles greenway. i get it’s a nice road. here is the problem, state politicians are just as chicken if not more so. you say let the states fix it, well, the state politicians want to get re-elected, too. if you mention raise the gas tax, it’s political suicide. eventually we’ll all be driving into potholes and getting back on horses. no, see, i would differ with you. look at virginia has done all kinds of innovative private financing. dulles green way was privately financed and built in the 1990s. last year virginia completed and privately financed a $150 million bridge over the elizabeth river. that’s very innovative. and so there’s a lot of solutions here we can go to without relying on washington. what about you, carl? make the case. handing that over to the states is definitely not the solution. the states aren’t asking the federal government to back off transportation finance. they want more money from the federal government. the states — we don’t have 50 separate state transportation systems in this country. we have one transportation system that’s very much interlinked. if is looking at closing down bridges or minnesota’s bridges are actually falling down, that affects the whole country. the federal government needs to be involved and they always have and it’s a good role for them to play. listen, carl, i get your point, too. the other thing we haven’t pointed out is actually, phil, i don’t want to say phil was wrong and our giant graphic was wrong. the gas tax isn’t 18.4 cents, it is, but it’s actually only 11 cents inflation adjusted. it’s nothing. we’ve gone 20 years with a gas tax rate that was set in the first year of the clinton administration. you talk about running government more efficiently, running it more like a business. just imagine if you opened up a restaurant 20 years ago and you didn’t raise your prices for 20 straight years. i don’t care how good a business person you are, you’re going to be struggling to make ends meet to pay your rent and your electric and your employees’ salaries because all those things have gone up in cost. yet we have a federal gas tax of 18 cents a gallon. guys, we have to go up. do you know what else has gone