Thune: Obama Budget Could Fuel Gas Tax

Monday, 04 Apr 2011 06:35 PM

By Hiram Reisner

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South Dakota GOP Sen. John Thune says a $435 billion “marker” in President Barack Obama’s proposed budget could be a gas tax, but it is unclear where the “phantom revenue” would come from, and is just one of the many items that are vague in the administration’s 2012 spending plan.

John Thune
“Well, what his budget put forward, Neal, was they assume $435 billion in revenue to fund transportation, but they don’t specify where it comes from,” Thune told Fox News’ Neal Cavuto Monday. “It’s phantom revenue — it’s a lot like the phantom leadership that we’ve been getting from this administration, particularly on these budget issues.

“And so Sen. [Marco] Rubio authored — and many of us joined him — a letter to the president to find out exactly what is that $435 billion; they assume $26 billion next year alone, and they say it will have the general characteristics of an excise tax, but they don’t specify what it is,” he said. “And I raised the question of Secretary [Ray] LaHood when he was in front of the [Senate] Budget Committee. And they’re very evasive about this, they don’t want to talk about it —they’ve just got this $435 billion ‘marker’ in their budget.”

Thune noted funding for the transportation trust fund is not the only thing vague in the administration’s budget proposal.

“There’s so much that’s so vague in this budget, Neal,” Thune said. “The problem that we’re all dealing with is: The president’s shown absolutely no leadership on the big ticket issues — on entitlement reform, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, tax reform — and to the degree that we got anything in his budget, it was a bunch of these, as I said, sort of phantom revenues and we don’t know what that means: Does it mean an excise tax on something else?

“So we’re just asking for clarification here,” he added. “We haven’t heard back on this — and I don’t expect that we will. Because I don’t think they want to talk about it.”

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