Congress should pay attention

Jun. 19, 2014 @ 04:42 AM

It may be a bipartisan plan, but we question how things go to the point where the plan was needed in the first place.

On Wednesday, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., proposed increasing the federal gas and diesel taxes by 12 cents over the next two years.

The reason being that the national Highway Trust Fund is going broke. In fact, the fund is forecast to be out of money by late August according to an Associated Press report.

The federal gas tax is set at 18.4 cents and the diesel tax is 24.4 cents and the plan calls for the tax to be indexed to keep pace with inflation.

In North Carolina, that means an even higher price to pay at the pump for consumers, all because Congress let its Highway Trust Fund be raided to compensate for other revenue shortages.

According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation and Department of Revenue, the state’s tax will be lowered by a penny to 36.5 cents per gallon through the end of the year.

That appears to be good news for motorists planning vacation travel over the summer. One cent may be small, but it adds up.

But, will an increase in the federal taxes mean fewer people traveling and filling up at the pumps in the coming years?

It seems likely.

North Carolinians are already paying staggering prices at the pump. Aside from the West Coast and Northeast, North Carolina has some of the highest gas prices in the nation. On Wednesday, Rutherford County residents were paying an average of $3.50 per gallon according to GasBuddy.com.

Now, Congress is entertaining the idea of passing their own misfortunes on to us, the consumer.

Congress has “played chicken with the Highway Trust Fund,” according to Corker but it seems the easiest thing to do is to make the taxpayers foot the bill to bring the fund back to solvency.

Typical Washington politics at work. Deplete funding and, at the zero hour, force the taxpayers to pay for the stupidity.

Not only is that wrong, it shows continued poor leadership on the national level.

Raising the national gas and diesel taxes is a poor way of compensating for the mistakes made by Congress. However, it is equally poor that Congress allowed the national Highway Trust Fund to reach this point.

Perhaps our leaders in Congress should pay more attention to the plight of its constituency and find alternative ways to keep its funding solvent rather than expect taxpayers to bear the brunt of its leaders’ inaction.

By Matthew Clark, for the Editorial Board

 

The Daily Courier Editorial Board consists of community members Jerry Brewer, Kyle Bingham, Tom Padgett and Cliff Strassenburg as well as Editor Matthew Clark