A Solution to Paying for Infrastructure Projects That Doesn't Involve the Postal Service

A man selects a grade of gasoline as he fills up his car at a Chevron station in Florida. A man selects a grade of gasoline as he fills up his car at a Chevron station in Florida. Wilfredo Lee/AP

Two senators are working on a bill to raise the federal gasoline and fuel tax to boost the Highway Trust Fund. Finally. Sens. Bob Corker (a Republican) and Chris Murphy (a Democrat) are working on a bill that would raise the federal gas tax by 12 cents over two years to fund infrastructure projects, according to Politico. It's the simplest way to make sure the people who use the roads pay for the roads, but also involves embracing political kryptonite. 

The Highway Fund will run dry by late August. Via
Department of Transportation

The gas tax, which pays for projects like fixing decrepit bridges and paving highways, hasn't been raised in over two decades, an oversight made even worse by the arrival of fuel efficient cars. It's not a coincidence that America is, once again, weeks away from depleting its Highway Trust Fund. Not surprisingly, Republicans and some Democrats aren't enthusiastic about the idea of raising taxes. As we've explained before, for years Congress has avoided raising the tax, but has also failed to come up with a long-term solution to pay for the fund.

This time around Republicans briefly toyed with the idea of ending Sunday postal service, but even that would have only paid for the Highway Fund until next year.Democrats and conservative Republicans rejected the idea of 10 years of postal savings for one year of infrastructure, and party leadership was forced to abandon the idea Thursday afternoon.

But the Corker-Murphy plan will be more of a theory than a plan until after the midterm elections. “I know that we won’t pass this in the next month,” Corker said during a press conference. “Our goal is to build support for this in the next six months.” So far the Chamber of Commerce, AAA, and other groups invested in paved roads are for it, but Club for Growth has called it a "terribly anti-growth" tax hike. Within the Senate Republican caucus some are calling for reduced waste in infrastructure funding, and others think the states should have to pay for their own projects. At the very least, that would make things easier for Congress. 

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