Editorial

Boehner ducks highway finance question

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

On the matter of highway infrastructure, U.S. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) agrees with President Obama that highway infrastructure is a priority, but doesn't have a specific proposal to pay for it, making it likely that our system of highways and bridges across the country will continue to deteriorate.

In a press conference on Jan. 22 Boehner opposed increasing the federal gas tax to help pay for new transportation projects.

He reiterated the position on 60 Minutes aired Jan. 25.

"The Highway Trust Fund, which is funded by gasoline taxes, continues to shrink as cars get more and better mileage standards. And so the money that's in the Highway Trust Fund isn't sufficient to meet the infrastructure needs of the country," Boehner told Scott Pelley of CBS. Pelley said, "You can fix that. You can raise the gas tax. Hasn't been raised in decades."

Boehner responded, "When the Democrats controlled the House, the Senate, and the White House, they couldn't increase the gas tax. We believe that through tax reform, a couple of other options that are being looked at, we can find the funds to fund a long-term, highway bill. It's critically important to the country."

What kind of answer is that, the Democrats didn't get it done so we won't either?

And what kind of hypothetical funding method is hidden in that mealy-mouthed suggestion about the "critically important" highway system?

What funding source for highways would be more appropriate and fair than a fuel tax?

Boehner's position on this matter shows a lack of leadership and a lack of courage.