White House back to peddling economic stimulus-via-infrastructure spending and new taxes

As President Obama so peevishly informed us all earlier this month, that the debate on repealing/replacing ObamaCare is now absolutely beyond contestation, so it would be really great if we could all just shut up and move on to more important things — like, say, the economy, because “the fifty or so votes Republicans have taken to repeal this law could have been fifty votes to create jobs by investing in things like infrastructure, more innovation.” That’s why the White House is leading by example and contrasting itself with Congress’s deliberately light legislative schedule — by proposing the same old sort of high-spending bull-pucky we’ve heard before. Via Bloomberg:

The Obama administration sent to Congress legislation that would provide $302 billion for road and transit projects over four years, a measure needed to keep the U.S. Highway Trust Fund from running dry.

The Transportation Department proposal would boost the highway fund $87 billion above current levels to generate more money for deficient bridges and aging transit systems. The bill also addresses the General Motors Co. (GM) ignition-switch recall by raising almost 10-fold to $300 million the maximum fine on carmakers that fail to quickly recall deficient vehicles.

Congressional transportation leaders in both parties have said they want to pursue six-year measures, though there is little consensus on how to finance the proposals. The Transportation Department has said the Highway Trust Fund — which relies on gasoline and diesel-fuel taxes — may not be able to meet its obligations as soon as this year. That risks leading states to slow or halt work in a recovering economy.

The funding proposal is in line with President Barack Obama’s February budget request. House and Senate panels are drafting their own bills and there are no plans in Congress to consider the president’s proposed way to help pay for it: a temporary tax increase on overseas earnings by companies.

And that’s not all:

Drivers on the nation’s Interstates could soon be paying more to travel.

A transportation proposal sent to Congress by the Obama administration on Tuesday would remove a prohibition on tolls for existing Interstate highways, clearing the way for states to raise revenue on roads that drivers currently use at no cost. Congress banned tolls on Interstates in 1956 when it created the national highway system under President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The administration said lifting the toll ban would help address a shortfall in funding to pay for highway repairs. The tolls, along with other changes, could provide an additional $87 billion for aging roadways, tunnels and bridges, the administration said.

If we need to keep the U.S. Highway Trust Fund from running out, then fine — but why is it that the only creativity that White House ever seems to come up with has to do with ways they can add to America’s tax burden, remove more money from the private sector, and repurpose it for top-down spending? If they really want to create jobs and free up some money for infrastructure projects, why not find way to reform inefficient government programs and cut the federal budget along with taxes and actually allow people to keep more of their money, perhaps?

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