"Senator McCain’s proposal will even further negatively impact the Highway Trust Fund, causing it to become insolvent even faster."
Senator McCain’s Gas Tax Holiday Would Hurt The Economy -- Don’t Cut Transportation Funds
April 16, 2008
American Public Transportation Association
(Download In Adobe PDF format)
Now is the time for leadership on transportation issues, not pandering to voters with an alleged “quick fix” to the economy through the suspension of federal gas taxes through the summer months.
With gas prices at an all time high, it is an easy thing to suggest the removal of the gas tax.
However, stating that the suspension of gas taxes from Memorial Day to Labor Day ostensibly to help our economy hides the real truth -- that America’s transportation is intertwined with our high standard of living and prosperity. To cut back transportation infrastructure investment endangers, not boosts, our economy, our jobs and our way of life.
The truth is that gas prices are high because the cost of oil is high; they’re not high because of the federal gas tax. The truth is that we need the federal gas tax to pay for the much needed highway and public transportation infrastructure. Do we really want our bridges to fall down? No. Do we want to see bus routes and train lines cut? No. Americans are used to their independence and want their transportation systems to not only be maintained, but improved and expanded.
While we need new ideas for economic growth and prosperity, the three-month gas tax elimination proposal is simply a shortsighted band-aid that would have little impact on the average American, who, according to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), would only save $28, an amount that doesn’t even begin to cover one gas fill-up for many Americans.
With the summer construction season nearly upon us, now is certainly not the time to suspend the federal funding that pays for the construction and maintenance of our country’s highways and public transportation. To suspend the federal gas tax from Memorial Day to Labor Day would result in only making our economic situation worse, causing more Americans to lose their jobs.
Additionally, this proposal by Senator McCain also runs counter to the public demand for more public transportation. Last year 10.3 billion trips were taken on public transportation – the largest ridership number in fifty years.
At a time when more and more Americans are using public transportation to beat the high cost of gas, the federal government needs to increase its investment in public transportation. If instead, the gas tax was suspended for the summer, it would eliminate $1.4 billion of federal funding for public transportation and severely restrict the industry’s ability to add and improve transit services for a growing number of Americans.
The Congressional Budget Office projects that the Highway Trust Fund, which finances the highway and public transit infrastructure, could become insolvent as early as next year. Senator McCain’s proposal will even further negatively impact the Highway Trust Fund, causing it to become insolvent even faster.
The federal gas tax has not been raised since October 1, 1993 but the demands on our roads and public transportation systems have continued to grow. Maintaining and expanding our transportation systems that meet the needs of our growing population is essential. The presidential candidates should be voicing their solutions for meeting the transportation needs of the future and dismissing any proposals, such as the “gas tax holiday” proposed by Senator McCain, that might be popular in the short-term but disruptive in the long term.
© 2008 American Public Transportation Association:
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