John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Fund the Highway Trust Fund — Or Get Rid of It

Posted on May 28, 2014
I-80 Eastshore Fwy

Originally Posted in the WSJ

If Congress can’t figure out how to raise revenue to pay for the Highway Trust Fund, it should just get rid of the program and be done with it.

The trust fund is expected to run out of money sometime in August. The reason is pretty simple: Congress doesn’t want to raise gas taxes because of their perceived unpopularity.

As a result, highway projects around the country are stalled, like much of the traffic.

“The highway fund provides almost a quarter of the $216 billion annual total public spending on highway and mass-transit construction,” The Wall Street Journal reported this month. “That translates to roughly $1 billion a week funneled to states to pay contractors.”

If Congress can’t bite the bullet on the gas tax, it should dismantle the program and let states raise the taxes to build their roads. Many of them do that anyway.

I am usually all for the federal government having a role in our nation’s highways. I get the history: Henry Clay’s American system, Ike’s program to build the interstates after he saw the German autobahn, and all that.

But this approach has been predicated on the idea that Congress would raise enough money to make the program work. It’s not working.

Adequately fund the program or get rid of it.