Sunday, November 14, 2010

About Those Subsidies For Roads...

Patrick McIlheran never tires of being wrong or of telling untruths if it will advance his causes.

One such example is that for the past week, P-Mac has been rehashing the same old falsities that highways are completely covered by the gas tax and are in no way subsidized by the government:
...but intercity highways are more or less entirely paid for by the user fees that are gas taxes.
It wasn't true before, and it's still not true:

The researchers wrote: “In 2007, 51 percent of the nation’s $193 billion set aside for highway construction and maintenance was generated through user fees — down from 10 years earlier when user fees made up 61 percent of total spending on roads. The rest came from other sources, including revenue generated by income, sales and property taxes, as well as bond issues.” Forty-years ago, they noted, user-fees generated 71 percent of highway revenues.

Of the 18.4 cent federal gasoline tax, 2.86 cents – about 15 percent – is directed toward mass transit projects, and an additional 0.1 cent toward environmental clean-up, according to the report. That leaves more than 80 percent strictly for highways. Even if we spent 100 percent of gas tax revenues on highways, only 65 percent of their total cost would be covered. There would still be a need for significant outside revenue – in other words, subsidies. Does that mean highways are “government waste?” Or are transportation dollars an investment to provide access to jobs and movement of goods?

One reason for the decline of the user-fee’s contribution is that the gas tax has not kept pace with inflation. Today, there is limited political appetite for a gas tax increase. Americans are also driving cleaner cars than they used to, due in large part of federal action on fuel economy. Less gas purchased means lower gas tax revenues.

So, to the critics who seem to be against all subsidies — unless they’re going to cover highway projects: let’s drop the claim that highways “pay for themselves” and have a debate rooted in fact rather than myth.

So, if Paddy knows this is false information he is spewing, why does he do it? Easily answered, gentle reader. Because road builders are grand contributors to the Republican Party, and without the GOP, the rich might actually have to start treating us lower classes as people also.

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