The Club for Growth on Wednesday slammed a bipartisan proposal to raise the federal gas tax to pay for road and transit programs as "bad policy" and "terribly anti-American."
"This is a $164 billion tax increase, plain and simple," Chris Chocola, the group's president, said in a statement. "It’s not an example of political courage to avoid reforming a broken system.
"Rather than perpetuate this failed system, Congress should devolve highway funding to the states and let them fund their own infrastructure needs," Chocola said.
Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Democrat Chris Murphy of Connecticut proposed raising the federal taxes on gas and diesel fuel by 12 cents a gallon over the next two years to cover a projected shortfall in the Highway Transit Fund
The current gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon, and the diesel tax is 24.4 cents a gallon. After the two years, the taxes would be indexed to keep pace with inflation.
Their proposal would offset the tax increases with other tax cuts. The senators said that could be done by permanently extending six federal tax breaks that expired this year, but they indicated they would be open to other suggestions.
The Highway Trust Fund pays for road and transit aid. It is expected to go broke by late August.
Revenue from gas taxes and other transportation user fees that go into the fund have not kept pace with federal aid promised to states. People are driving less per capita, and cars are more fuel efficient, keeping revenues fairly flat.
The nation's infrastructure is aging, creating greater demand for new and rebuilt roads and bridges. At the same time, the cost of construction has increased.
"Instead of standing up to the special interests who feast on the chronically bankrupt Highway Trust Fund year after year, Sen. Corker and Sen. Murphy have essentially decided that throwing more money into a black hole is a good path forward," Chocola said in blocking the plan. "It’s not."
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