A Bridge Too Far? Trump May Back Raising the Gas Tax

Faith Castro
February 19, 2018

President Donald Trump floated the idea of raising the federal gasoline tax during talks earlier this week with a bipartisan meeting with Congress.

The July 19, 2015 collapse of an Interstate 10 bridge in Riverside County, Calif. due to heavy rains is prompting questions among experts about weaknesses in transportation infrastructure and its capacity to withstand increasingly extreme weather events.

It was an issue that in a country often divided along party and political lines, there was agreement that roads, bridges, dams and the power grid were outdated and in need of fix and modernization.

That's far more than the $200 billion the Trump Administration suggested would be the federal share of funding in the long-delayed infrastructure plan it released last week.

As a candidate, Trump vowed not to take a salary, which is $400,000 annually.

A White House official declined to discuss what came out of a closed-door meeting, but said "the gas tax has its pros and cons".

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is scheduled to explain the White House's proposal to Carper's Environment and Public Works Committee March 1. "He said that he knew it was a hard thing for legislators to support and said that he would support the leadership to do that and provide the political cover to do that", Harper said during an interview with CNN.

More news: Fire hits Jokhang monastery, one of Tibet's most sacred

The administration laid out an infrastructure plan on Monday that aims to turn $200 billion in federal money into $1.5 trillion by leveraging local and state tax dollars and private investment.

"We're willing to pay more", Chris Spear, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations (ATA), said.

Conservative groups warned against the calls for a tax increase. Over the next decade, that tax would generate $340 billion, he said. Higher gasoline prices tend to weigh on economic growth, acting as a tax on economic activity.

Pennsylvania Representative Bill Shuster, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has encouraged his Republican colleagues to consider raising the gas tax as a way to keep the Highway Trust Fund - which funds road, bridge and transit projects - solvent after 2021.

Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, who was also in the meeting, said reports about Trump's backing were "exaggerated" but that the president did say all options were on the table and he would support an increase to the fuel levies. Since 1993, the gas and diesel tax have been 18.4 cents per gallon, and 24.4 cents per gallon, respectively. CBS News then asked the White House to release the photograph of Mr. Trump signing the bill, making the request a total of 12 times.

"We spent quite a bit of money between the tax bill and the budget agreement, and we haven't raised the gasoline tax in quite some time", he said.

Well, as we know by now, Trump is prone to changing his mind.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

Discuss This Article