So the President is shopping around the idea of a massive infrastructure bill. In fact, if you were following him on Twitter this morning he was talking it up once again.
Just one to two trillion, eh? Easy come, easy go, I suppose. But how do we plan on paying for this massive investment? Never fear. New York Congressman Chris Collins (R) took time out from preparing for his insider trading trial to offer a suggestion. We’ll just double the gas tax and let all of the little people pay for it! (The Hill)
A Trump ally on Capitol Hill is calling for the doubling of the federal gas tax and airline fees in order to pay for the $2 trillion infrastructure package being negotiated by President Trump and Democratic leaders.
Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) is urging Congress to double the 18.4-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax, which has not been raised in more than a quarter century. He also wants to double the existing fee that airline passengers pay per flight.
“I not only support increasing the gas tax; I support doubling it. I support doubling the airline passenger fee from $4.50 to $8 or $9. Those are user fees. I won’t even call it a tax,” Collins told The Hill in an interview after Trump and Democratic leaders agreed Tuesday to try to fund a $2 trillion bill to improve the nation’s crumbling roads, bridges and other infrastructure.
Look, I understand the need for some infrastructure improvements. The need certainly exists, particularly when it comes to interstate bridge inspections and repairs or smartening up our nation’s power grid. Those are big projects and they require a lot of funding. But even if the President has an “ally” in Chris Collins, that’s not the sort of friend he needs whispering in his ear right now.
It’s bad enough that spending has been out of control under this administration every bit as much as during Obama’s tenure, if not more. The fact that we didn’t manage to work some serious spending cuts into the package when the tax cuts went through remains a burr under the conservative saddle. But if we’re going to keep spending like a sailor during Fleet Week and your only idea as to how to pay for it is to raise taxes, precisely how is the GOP different from the Democrats at that point? A tax and spend policy smells just as odious by any other name.
Also, Donald Trump owes his 2016 victory to the support he received from working-class voters. And that’s precisely who gets hit the hardest when you start jacking up the gas tax. It’s easier to talk about an increase in the gas tax when gas prices are low, as they are now. But history should have taught us by now that those low gas prices won’t last forever. And you know what will last forever? The gas tax. Once you raise a tax, it’s a rare day when it gets lowered back to previous levels.
This is just one more sign that we ought to be thinking about a primary opponent for Collins. If he’s not going to resign and trigger a special election for a less damaged candidate, his trial may drag on for so long that we’re once again at risk of losing a safe GOP seat in New York. If he’s going to spend his days proposing tax increases, that should make the need for such action even more urgent.