Friday, July 25, 2014


Pension-smoothing is a silly gimmick.  But it's a red herring.

Okay, yes, pretty much no one thinks it's a good idea.

It's dumb.  And wasteful.

Of course, the real solution is to raise taxes on gasoline, right?  Though that wouldn't solve the problem of people driving less, or the "problem" of more fuel efficient cars. (Problem?)

No, the real solution is to stop looting the highway trust fund for pork barrel projects, and use it for maintenance.  At present, 40% of the Fed's highway trust fund goes to "earmarked programs."

Stop that.  Easy peasey.

Here's the thing:  the states are supposed to pay for maintenance of the highway system.  And the STATE taxes are more than double the Fed excise tax.  The states you would expect (CA, CT, MI) all charge more than TRIPLE the Fed rate.  And these states all loot that money and use it to buy votes from developers and corporations.

There's this canard:  the rate of gas taxes has fallen, adjusted for inflation.  Well, the Fed tax rate has fallen, because all they do is use it to build bridges to nowhere.  It's just a slush fund for payoffs to campaign contributors.  The average rate of state gas tax was 20 cents/gallon in 2002.  It's 31 cents/gallon in 2014.  That's a 55% increase, in 12 years.  Inflation is only a 33% increase over that period.  The point being that state gas taxes have increased more than 20%, adjusted for inflation, since 2002.  Why do we need to raise gas taxes?

The answer is that politicians use your tax money to buy votes.  And they can never, ever have enough.  Votes, that is.

Just spend the actual money that we already raise on roads.  Take the 40% of the Fed highway trust fund that's spent on pork, and spend it on maintenance.  Stop enabling the states to use gas taxes for anything except roads.  We collect plenty of taxes for roads.  We just don't use it for roads.

Gas taxes are a pretty good example of a "user fee."  You pay more if you use more, and the money can be used to provide the service.  Except that, to paraphrase Gary Trudeau, "But the highway trust fund was just sitting there!"


Gene Hayward said...

Almost $400 million for these discretionary projects in 2012. Read them and weep. Depends on what your definition of "infrastructure" is.

Sean said...

The REAL real solution is to roll back all of the stupid laws that make it so much more expensive to build and maintain roads in the US than anywhere else (even Europe).