Sure, gas prices
are already pretty high this year, but what would you say to paying five cents more a gallon? This time, the increase isn't a hurricane or trouble in the middle east, but a proposal by the Democratic chairman of the House Transportation Committee, Rep. Jim Oberstar, to raise the tax to pay in order to pay for bridge repair
across America. President Bush said today that this proposal is a bad idea and that, "The way it seems to have worked is that each member on that (Transportation) committee gets to set his or her own priorities first. That's not the right way to prioritize the people's money. Before we raise taxes, which could affect economic growth, I would strongly urge the Congress to examine how they set priorities."
According to the AP
, eight percent of the last highway bill (valued at $286 billion) went to highway and bridge projects, but only those singled out by lawmakers. The nickel a gallon increase would be directed to a new bridge repair trust fund.
When all cars get 100 mpg and we plug them in at night to drive the next day, then tax increases like this won't do a lick of good. But until then (so, for a while yet), gas remains a popular plaything of legislators. The bridge collapse in Minnesota last week shows that we need to make sure our infrastructure is up to par. Stepping back and examining priorities so we help everyone is as good advice for Bush as it is for Congress.