There’s a problem with the improvements in fuel economy pushed by President Obama. According to Ray LaHood, his former secretary of transportation, it means shrinking gas taxes and that’s killing hopes to fix the nation’s roads and bridges.

Shushed by the president when he first suggested new taxes, including a fee for every mile traveled, the recently retired LaHood is calling on the administration to consider a 10-cent tax and other ways to raise money to fix roads.

And now he’s getting some backing. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, typically a foe of taxes, said LaHood’s right.

Chamber President Thomas Donohue noted that the 18-cent federal gas tax hasn’t been increased in 20 years. “What kind of car were you around the table driving 20 years ago?" he joked to reporters this week.

“We have for the longest time avoided taking steps that we need to take to strengthen our infrastructure — steps that would not be driven by incremental expenditures by the broad population but would be paid for by user fees,” he said.

Donohue told reporters that roads need to be fixed, even in Washington. “We drive on the streets of this town. This is the world’s capital. And any day now, we’re going to fall into a sinkhole.”

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at