An open letter to the 114th Congress from the American Dream Coalition.
January 30, 2015
Dear Members of the 114th Congress,
On behalf of our organizations and the millions of Americans we represent across all 50 states, I write to express our strong opposition to legislation that includes an increase to the federal gas tax.
Not only is increasing the gas tax an ineffective way to address the nation's transportation infrastructure needs, it would further increase the burden of government on families and business - and would disproportionately hurt lower income Americans already hurt by trying times in our economy.
A higher gas tax means higher prices not just on gas, but on goods and services throughout the economy. These increased costs would inevitably be passed down to consumers, resulting in a regressive tax hike on middle- and lower-income Americans.
Millions of people struggling through stagnant wages and increased cost of living have been given some relief with falling gas prices. These lower prices amount to nearly $100 extra per month for an average family, which is expected to lead to an additional $100 billion of economic growth. Congress should embrace these lower prices, not confiscate the savings, increase costs, and weaken growth potential.
Moreover, a gas tax increase would exacerbate existing problems with the current transportation infrastructure funding formula. Despite billions in Highway Trust Fund (HTF) shortfalls, Washington continues to spend federal dollars on projects that have nothing to do with roads like bike paths and transit as well as completely unrelated projects like museums and squirrel sanctuaries. Over one-third of HTF spending today is for non-highway purposes.
In addition, Davis-Bacon wage rules and other burdensome regulations needlessly add time and cost to transportation infrastructure projects.
As with so many other issues in Washington, transportation infrastructure has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. Rather than asking Americans for even more of their hard-earned paycheck to fund reckless Washington spending, Congress should seek an alternate solution that properly prioritizes federal transportation infrastructure needs, reduces costly and time-consuming bureaucratic hurdles, and further empowers state and local governments in conjunction with the private sector. In doing so, Congress can create a system that is efficient and responsive, and ensures that the United States has the best and safest transportation network in the world.