Earlier this week, President Trump said he's open to hiking the federal gas tax as a way to pay for future infrastructure projects. Press secretary Sean Spicer later said Trump hasn't endorsed the idea, and thankfully so. Hiking the federal gas tax would burden families and small businesses across the country and is not a sustainable solution to our transportation and infrastructure needs.
American households struggling through stagnant wages and increased costs of living over the past few years have enjoyed some relief from low gas prices. Lawmakers in Washington should embrace these lower prices and the potential for economic growth.
Hiking the gas tax would lead to higher prices for everyday goods and services throughout the economy, not just on gas. These higher costs would inevitably be passed down to consumers, with a regressive impact on Americans with middle- and low-incomes. People who live in rural areas or drive older cars would bear an extra burden.
Those who live in states that hiked their state gas tax rates over this past legislation session would feel twice the pain at the pump. Drivers in Tennessee saw a 6-cent per gallon hike this year; those in New Jersey saw a 23-cent increase; those in South Carolina saw a 12-cent hike; those in Indiana saw a 10-cent increase on top of a $15 per vehicle "fee." Any increase in the federal gas tax would be on top of this.
Conservative organizations overwhelmingly oppose a gas tax increase. Americans for Prosperity led a nationwide coalition of more than 50 organizations in opposing a gas tax hike back in 2015. In partnership with groups including Americans for Tax Reform and Club For Growth, we sent a letter to Congress pointing out that the Highway Trust Fund has a serious spending problem, not a revenue problem.
The good news for American families and businesses is that conservatives in Congress have little appetite to pass a gas tax hike.
Similar talks came up on Capitol Hill two years ago, but they were brief. Congress reauthorized the surface transportation program, which spends around $11 billion, and kept the gas tax at its current rate.
In the coming months as American families hit the road for summer vacation, the last thing they need is more pain at the pump. Congress and the White House should find more responsible ways to pay for the nation's transportation and infrastructure needs as this issue heats up.
Christine Harbin (@ChrissyHarbin) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. She is vice president of external affairs for Americans for Prosperity.
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