Should Congress increase the federal gasoline tax?

Johnson City Press • Jul 1, 2014 at 12:38 PM

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker thinks it is time to raise the federal gas tax. Tennessee’s junior Republican senator has joined U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., in sponsoring legislation to hike the current 18.4-cents-a-gallon federal gas tax and 24.4-cents-a-gallon diesel tax by 12 cents each over the next two years.

The new tax rates would also be indexed to keep pace with inflation. The increase would be levied in two increments of 6 cents each.

The Associated Press reported last week the plan also calls for offsetting the tax increases with other tax cuts. Corker said that could be done by permanently extending six of 50 federal tax breaks that are to expire later this year.

The idea of raising the federal gas tax was praised by highway builders and transportation advocates, who say the move is needed to keep the federal Highway Trust Fund solvent. Anti-tax groups, however, has derided the plan as unnecessary and punitive to those who drive the nation’s highways.

The federal gas and diesel taxes have not been increased since1993, when they were hiked as part of plan to reduce the federal budget deficit.

“For too long, Congress has shied away from taking serious action to update our country’s aging infrastructure,” Murphy said in a prepared news statement. “We’re currently facing a transportation crisis that will only get worse if we don’t take bold action to fund the Highway Trust Fund.”

Meanwhile, The (Nashville) Tennessean reported on June 22 that Chris Chocola, president of the Club for Growth, criticized the plan as a $164 billion tax increase.

“A gas tax hike would be both bad policy and terribly anti-growth,” Barton said.

We want to hear from you. Should the federal gas tax be increased?

Send your comments to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717, or mailbag@johnsoncitypress.com. Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification. We will print your responses on the Opinion pages in the coming weeks.

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