Monday, May 19, 2014

Yes, Mr. President, Our Infrastructure Is In Disrepair. Why Punish America's Businesses?

On February 27th, Obama unveiled a $308 billion dollar program designed to fix and repair our aging road and rail systems.   Last week, he treated some construction workers to a burger lunch in order to, once again, hype his infrastructure bill.

To pay for it, he would stick American corporations for the bill; as if they, alone, are responsible for the problem.   By doing so, he will avoid the bad politics of increasing everyone elses gasoline expenses by increasing the federal gasoline tax; which, by the way, is supposed to cover the cost of these repairs. Instead, he can then blame businesses for the higher prices that they are sure to pass on to us. And, the biggest benefactor?  The labor unions.  A fact that he insured when, by executive order, he mandated Project Labor Agreements for all federally funded projects.

OK, maybe we need $300 billion to fix our roads and rails. But, keep in mind that this nation built its entire interstate highway system for only $425 billion (that cost being adjusted to 2006 dollars).  Before we spend billions of dollars on selectively chosen projects that might be politically expedient (and that's all Obama ever cares about), lets fix the broken funding system that is supposed to maintain this country's infrastructure.

For 20 years, the federal gasoline tax -- the one that's supposed to fund transportation (infrastructure) spending -- has stood at 18.4 cents per gallon.  Never once was it adjusted for inflation.  Right now, it should be about 30 cents a gallon, but no politician is willing to hike it to that rate with gasoline prices already so high.  At the same time, fuel efficiency has increase by nearly 12-1/2%, with the current average being 23.6 mpg. So, by adjusting the fuel tax to reflect that change, it should be at least 36 cents; or, double what it is today.

But, funding is only one of the problems.  "Going green" is another.  Instead of using the federal gasoline tax for fixing or building new infrastructure, much of it was diverted to build seldom used bike paths and to purchase too many single deck, double-deck, and flex buses that run on lightly-used, unprofitable routes.  Then, too, a lot of money has gone to replace conventional diesel buses with those that run on a much greener fuel: compressed natural gas.

So, in order to fix our infrastructure, we are faced with two simple tasks.  First, raise the gasoline tax.  It doesn't have to be done all at once.  It could be raised gradually; say by three cents a year until parity with inflation and fuel efficiency is achieved.  Then, permanently index it to inflation. Second, let's put a moratorium on "going green" and focus on fixing what is currently broken.  After all, a double-decker bus with only a handful of riders isn't very "green" now is it?


Obama hopes Congress will fund $300b for roads, rails:

The Gas Tax Doesn't Work Because Politicians Broke It:

Executive Order 13502: Project Labor Agreements For Federal Construction Projects:

Wikipedia: Interstate Highway System:

Cars in the U.S. are more fuel-efficient than ever:


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