Another day, another fact free guest editorial by a conservative Republican. This time, by Brad Johnson, former MT. Secretary of State and serial office seeker. Mr. Johnson doesn’t want poor oil companies being taxed more to pay for our highways. He acknowledges that we need funding for a new Highway funding bill, but he doesn’t say where the money should come from. Well, if the money doesn’t come from the companies which benefit most from oil usage (You know, Exxon, Conoco, Chevron, BP, Shell) then it has to come from someone else, like you and me.
Let’s start here with some facts. The Highway Trust Fund was established to build and maintain highways across the U.S. It was established in 1956 at the same time the Interstate Highway system was begun. It is funded by taxes on gasoline, currently 18.3 cents for gas and 24.4 for diesel. The problem is that the amount of the tax has not been raised since 1993. Inflation over the past 21 years has eroded the Trust fund balance to almost nothing. So, now its crunch time. Congress really can’t ignore the issue any longer. So, the question is: where does the money come from?
Back in February, the Obama Administration proposed a $300 billion bill financed by closing corporate tax loopholes. Republicans, however refuse to even consider the bill because, of course, their constituency is big corporations. The only other realistic fix is to increase the gas tax. But, a gallon of gas is way more expensive now than it was in 1993 so a lot of drivers can’t afford it, and most Republicans have taken a pledge not to raise taxes anyway.
So, does Johnson offer a solution? Of course not, he’s a Republican. Instead, he just says no. If he thinks corporations like Shell, Exxon, BP, and Chevron, the second, fifth, sixth and twelfth most valuable corporations in the world, can’t afford more taxes, then who the heck can?