Video: Classical (union) Gas

posted at 8:45 am on September 7, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

With Barack Obama looking for ways to regain momentum on job creation, expect the President to lecture Congress on the upcoming expiration of the federal gas tax when he speaks tomorrow to a joint session just before the NFL starts its season. Since the 18.4¢/gallon levy generates around $32 billion in revenue to the federal government, mainly but not exclusively for the roads and bridges that Obama never fails to mention in his “infrastructure bank” approach to economic stimulus, he’ll also use the gas tax as a way to paint himself as a deficit hawk as well.  However, the actual use of those funds are far from straightforward, as Steven Crowder explained in his latest video:

As Chris Stirewalt explained at Fox News last week, this may not be an easy sell for Obama to Congress or to voters:

The extension of the gas tax, or, as the administration likes to call it, “the transportation bill,” will provide a key early measure of the state of the Republican caucus and the attitude of the president heading into a three-month-long battle with his congressional foes on debt, taxes and jobs.

How willing are House Republicans to resist the extension? How willing are Krugmanite liberals to call for an increase in order to finance more spending? How effective will Obama be in arguing that the status quo is as good as he can do?

The tax is the Obama agenda in microcosm: The program takes money from everyone to fund infrastructure projects, some environmentally friendly initiatives and treats union workers favorably. It also shows the challenge he faces in selling a broader program of tax increases for stimulus spending. Explaining to Americans why paying 18.4 cents more for a gallon of gas is no easy feat.

House Republicans already reformed part of the transportation appropriation process this year by forcing Congress to fully fund any projects authorized in the same year of authorization.  Prior to 2011, Congress would authorize projects with starter funds from the Highway Trust Fund and then have to offer a “bail out” of funding from general revenue when bills came due.  That created a lot of costs that could have been avoided, as well as dragged out projects needlessly.  Now they want to revoke the federal tax so that states can decide how much to tax and apply their own funds to their own projects, a good start on the necessary decentralization of transportation projects and a way to eliminate the pork-barrel mechanism for projects like high-speed rail and federal walking paths that don’t come anywhere near a state border.

If we want to start scaling back the federal government and eliminate pork, then this is one key way to put pressure on Washington.

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Everyone who drives gets a tax cut, and the Oboobacrats get to complain about it.

Sounds like a no brainer to me.

Akzed on September 7, 2011 at 8:54 AM

Does anyone expect that he’s going to put the GOP through a SUPREME COURT / State of the Union moment?

I wouldn’t be surprised.

PappyD61 on September 7, 2011 at 8:58 AM

There is road and bridge work going on in every state and city 365,24/7.If you travel at some point you are bogged down in a traffic jam caused by construction.Some jobs in Texas take so long that when finished they are obsolete and need repairs right after thay are opened to traffic.If the job cost is over 25 million and it is mandated to be a union job they will never be completed.

docflash on September 7, 2011 at 9:01 AM

One third, and that was BEFORE HST which is 13% in Ontario and is applied not just to the price of the gas but also to the taxes on the gas.

ProfessorMiao on September 7, 2011 at 9:12 AM

docflash on September 7, 2011 at 9:01 AM

That’s all part of the plan: slowing you down so you can’t get to the job that you still have.

RDE2010 on September 7, 2011 at 9:12 AM

This will probably lead to more dates like this. The poor guy probably had to stop for gas money.

http://themorningspew.com/2011/09/07/the-date-from-hell/

bloggless on September 7, 2011 at 9:20 AM

Cut it!

Also, the transportation bill was set up to build interstates all across the country. The interstates were completed in the early 90′s. Sure, there is still maintenance on those highways but not 18%. Maintenance does not cost as much as building new roads.

I personally think that an interstate going from Louisiana to Texas should be paid by Louisiana and Texas. Why would taxpayers in Maryland pay for a highway that will not benefit them? In other words, pull the federal govt out of the interstate business.

jeffn21 on September 7, 2011 at 9:23 AM

Maintenance does not cost as much as building new roads.

Sometimes it does, especially when traffic has to be rerouted onto temporary pavements or new bridges are needed to replace old/damaged ones. It also costs more when you see some of the work-ethic-lacking workers standing around.

I have lots of trouble understanding why some repairs/redo’s in Ohio have taken years. This not only costs taxpayers billions in labor and supplies, but the increased number of crashes, injuries and deaths wind up costing and affecting them all the more. When you factor in lost time, hours wasted in traffic jams and slow-ups, it’s unfathomable.

Qzsusy on September 7, 2011 at 9:34 AM

I personally think that an interstate going from Louisiana to Texas should be paid by Louisiana and Texas. Why would taxpayers in Maryland pay for a highway that will not benefit them? In other words, pull the federal govt out of the interstate business.

The problem is that quality roads might not be a priority for states, especially ones that are running huge deficits. Deterioration of our interstate highways affects everyone if truckers have difficulty transporting goods across the country.
This is one area where I think the feds should step in.

pullingmyhairout on September 7, 2011 at 9:40 AM

I have lots of trouble understanding why some repairs/redo’s in Ohio have taken years.

One word: UNIONS.

pullingmyhairout on September 7, 2011 at 9:41 AM

John Boehner’s House should vote to raise the tax another 5% on top of the existing tax. Pass it on to Harry’s Senate, who will reject any tax increase in an election cycle. Obama will end up eating his own crow.

We’re back up to $4.09 per gallon in NorCal and $4.35 for diesel, (went up four days before Labor Day Weekend—surprise), and yet the federal government and their enabling economist refuse to report the inflated cost of goods and services to every American, which is again shrinking the pocket books of all consumers who might otherwise spend these precious dollars with local businesses—that could “fuel” a stagnant economy. This is all a vicious cycle of sending “the people’s money” to the government for re-distribution at a return rate of around ten cents on the dollar after the bureaucracy eats up the other 90%. More hope……..and a little “change”.

Rovin on September 7, 2011 at 9:53 AM

I personally think that an interstate going from Louisiana to Texas should be paid by Louisiana and Texas. Why would taxpayers in Maryland pay for a highway that will not benefit them? In other words, pull the federal govt out of the interstate business.

jeffn21 on September 7, 2011 at 9:23 AM

I’m sure someone in Maine can benefit from Oil being transported through LA/TX on better roads in those two states. I’m totally for getting rid of the tax, however, we shouldn’t kid ourselves. We all benefit from better transportation throughout the country.

Goods come in from both oceans and then are transported all over the entire country.

preallocated on September 7, 2011 at 9:58 AM

The problem is that quality roads might not be a priority for states, especially ones that are running huge deficits. Deterioration of our interstate highways affects everyone if truckers have difficulty transporting goods across the country.
This is one area where I think the feds should step in.

pullingmyhairout on September 7, 2011 at 9:40 AM

Even on Interstate highway repairs, there seems to be some overlap between Federal and State responsibility.

During a recent project to widen I-84 in Connecticut from the I-691 interchange in Southington westward toward Waterbury, there were numerous complaints about poorly engineered drainage systems, with some storm drains leading into concrete pits not connected to an existing stream or storm sewer, which local media called “drains to nowhere”, and the “blame game” started between the Federal and State Departments of Transportation, local municipal governments, and contractors.

As it turned out, the highway was NOT widened over a two-mile stretch immediately east of Waterbury, which remained only two lanes in each direction, and there are repeated delays and bottlenecks where four lanes of traffic try to squeeze into two lanes and spend 20 minutes traveling two miles.

Hey Barry, here’s a shovel-ready project for ya, can you dig it?

Steve Z on September 7, 2011 at 10:30 AM

I personally think that an interstate going from Louisiana to Texas should be paid by Louisiana and Texas. Why would taxpayers in Maryland pay for a highway that will not benefit them? In other words, pull the federal govt out of the interstate business.

jeffn21

Besides the goods that benefit the entire nation that cross these highways, remember that Floridians, for example, that are driving to Texas ALSO benefit from these roads, as do New Mexicans traveling to Louisiana.

honsy on September 7, 2011 at 11:11 AM

On the 15 miles of I95 between my house and work, there has been steady construction for the past 6 years. I never see anyone working or any equipment except for barricades and highway patrol milking the double fine for speeding in construction zones.

John Deaux on September 7, 2011 at 11:30 AM

I thought the Dems loved the poor. Wanted breaks for the downtrodden. Aren’t these taxes on gasoline regressive?

IlikedAUH2O on September 7, 2011 at 12:03 PM

Steve Z on September 7, 2011 at 10:30 AM

You must find a contractor with the right connections and then apply.

IlikedAUH2O on September 7, 2011 at 12:05 PM

Transferring responsibility for all infrastructure projects to the states? I call that a step in the right direction. Private toll roads would be even better, but I’ll take what I can get.

Count to 10 on September 7, 2011 at 12:50 PM

Long time Hot Air Head, here… That didn’t come out right.

Anyway, we enjoy Crowder… but he ain’t the only conservative that is entertaining. JoeDan Gorman (JoeDanMedia.com) is an amazing talent with BUTT-kickin vids [I am the Infidel (Your Imam warned about)

He also created a show with PJTV’s Sonja Schmidt called ‘the IN word’… funny as hell. And he and Sonja feature conservative musical artists [that aren’t country) each show.

I understand PJTV and Right Network said JoeDan was ‘too edgy’… that of course is ‘PC’ for ‘honest conservative’

deedtrader on September 7, 2011 at 12:54 PM

When I was designing highways in Texas the highways were built for a 30 year life with a small increase for growth (1%/year I think). Our growth has blown way past those estimates but the highways didn’t desolve. Capacity for urban freeways was set at the traffic count of the 25th highest hourly flow. The standards were turned upside down while we were designing them in the ’80s and I’ll be danged if we didn’t still get around.

Compare to most cities on the west coast (Seattle!) that will not allow a road to be widened beyond its original size from the ’60s.

btw, the Southwest Freeway in Houston is now 12-14 lanes across with 2-3 lanes frontages on each side and two car share lanes down the middle, and for the east/westers, I-10 is about the same now too.

Like a well built house, maintenance should not rise above 3% or so/year.

DanMan on September 7, 2011 at 12:58 PM

And Crowder hit on another theme that I was a part of prior to being an Ex-DOT. A wide boulevard type road that had long been platted was about to be built. It crossed Buffalo Bayou (wealthy along that channel would not allow any channelization improvements) and connected two major thoroughfares that sandwiched pretty nice neighborhoods.

Funding came through Tx-DOT via some federal CIP funds. The locals sued to have all federal standards met as a stalling technique. It was done. Sound walls were designed with community input, color,style,texture, etc. Utility relocations for the walls added another third to the cost. Just before the bid letting the resident’s attorney declared new sound studies would be needed as one of the 12 tests locations was said to be out of the proper range to be valid.

We ended up trading the project with another Metro proposed road and let them fund it. They had the money in the bank already. Result? No walls.

We play Hold’em on so many levels here.

DanMan on September 7, 2011 at 1:15 PM

Elimination of the transportation tax:

1. Makes all transportation projects more cost effective because the Federal overhead costs (aka: inefficiency, administrative cost, waste, mandated payment of inflated union wages) are elminated.

2. Allows states to control their own plans without imposing dysfunctional and often irrelevant “federal standards” which result in idiotic and wasteful things like superhighway-sized traffic lights (costing up to $250,000 per intersection) on residential streets, unnecessary replacement of perfectly good signs which are not the “new color”, etc., etc..

3. Frees states from federal blackmail threats to “withhold highway funds” if they don’t pass various laws which none of their citizens want or need.

SOUNDS TO ME LIKE BLOCKING THE RENEWAL OF THIS PIG WOULD BE A HUGE WIN FOR EVERYONE BUT FEDERAL BUREAUCRATS AND UNION BOSSES!!! The US could save even more money immediately by shutting down the federal highway administration bureacracy.

landlines on September 7, 2011 at 1:27 PM