On the heels of historic tax relief, the last thing hardworking Americans deserve is for the federal government to claw back the benefits with a new, punishing gas tax.The gas tax, which started out as a 1-cent-per-gallon tax to offset the federal deficit during the Great Depression, has since snowballed to an 18.4-cent-per-gallon tax.If that wasn’t bad enough, some are suggesting raising it in order to help fund new infrastructure projects.
That would be the largest hike in gas tax history. The modern gas tax is what is known as a “user fee,” where people who benefit from a program or service bear the most of its cost. While that type of tax is preferential to other taxes, that doesn’t mean it should be raised indiscriminately.
Calls to increase the gas tax miss the larger problem, which is the utter inefficiency currently baked into government transportation spending. Instead of looking to raise more revenue through an increased gas tax, lawmakers should look to cut the billions of dollars of waste, fraud and abuse that are prominent in infrastructure projects. Government has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.While spending from the Highway Trust Fund has continued to increase in recent years, Americans aren’t getting much bang for their buck. The Government Accountability Office found that less than 50 percent of HTF expenditures actually go toward roads and bridges.