$16 Billion Shortfall Only To Be Filled By Gas Tax?

“Just wait until we have a cooperative Senate!  THEN you’ll see us push back on the progressive agenda!”  So said the Speaker and his class of Sweathogs.

Last week, we heard the sound of heads exploding as [mc_name name=’Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001071′ ] and [mc_name name=’Sen. John Thune (R-SD)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’T000250′ ] went on Fox News Sunday to lay the groundwork for a gasoline tax.  Americans finally get a break at the gas pump (thanks to the Middle East and NOT to American policy), and progressives pounce.  They believe they can add a tax at $2/gallon, and then we’d forget about it when gas rises to $4/gallon.  And who can blame them?  Voters continue to simultaneously complain about Congress and re-elect them to Congress.

The tax is allegedly to cover a $16 billion deficit in the Department of Transportation.  I guess the other $500 billion deficit doesn’t matter, but this one requires action.  And if you’re a progressive Republican, you join Democrats in screaming “Tax Hike!”

Conservatives disagree.  I will begin the crowd-sourcing challenge to find $16 billion in the US budget that could used to fully fund the Department of Transportation.

  • [mc_name name=’Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C000560′ ]’s Wastebook contains $25 billion of wasteful spending.  Boom!  Dealing with just two-thirds of these programs and costs would eliminate the need for the Corker/Thune gas tax.
  • Obamacare subsidies.  If I understand correctly, the federal government is spending money in states that do not have a state exchange.  In fact according to the CBO, $36 billion is projected to be spent in 2015 and then more money as each year passes.  If the Supreme Court says that such spending is unconstitutional, then $16 billion is certain to be found immediately and much more money would be saved in successive years.
  • Approximately $50 billion goes to US Foreign Aid.  Farm and rural subsidies are about $20 billion. The $50 billion Department of Education could certainly use some pruning.  Snipping just over 10% of these budgets would also supply the money to be raised by a gas tax.

None of us are surprised that Senators Ponch and Jon are pushing a tax increase.  I’m just surprised it happened so quickly after an election cycle so successful for conservatism.  The problem is not that average people are paying too little to the government.  Conservatives know that.  Conservatives would never imagine that.  Tax hikes are championed by progressives, and many progressives are now wearing a conservative’s suit.