Is White House Considering Fuel Tax Increase for Infrastructure?
Photo: Jim Park
Published reports indicate that the Trump administration may be willing to push for a hike in the fuel tax to help pay for the president's promised $1 trillion in infrastructure investments.
President Trump’s economic adviser Gary Cohn told moderate House lawmakers at a private meeting on Wednesday that they'll get a chance to vote on a gas tax hike early next year as part of an infrastructure bill, according to two lawmakers who were present, reports The Hill.
The meeting was with the Problem Solvers Caucus, U.S. Representative Tom Reed, a New York Republican who is co-chairman of the caucus, told Bloomberg.
The fuel tax hasn’t been increased since 1993, and revenue from the federal per-gallon taxes of 18.4 cents on gasoline and 24.4 cents on diesel has declined as vehicles have gotten more fuel efficient. But despite the fact that infrastructure improvement as a general concept seems to have bipartisan support, proposals to raise the fuel tax have faced stiff opposition from congressional Republicans and others loath to raise taxes.
Bloomberg asked House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady about the possibility. “Hm. I’m going to stay focused on tax reform right now,” he said.
Proponents, however, point out that it’s really a user fee rather than a tax.
A survey of 800 registered voters in June showed Americans increasingly view the condition of the nation’s transportation infrastructure as a problem and believe it should be a spending priority, said pollster Neil Newhouse, who authored the survey, to an audience at American Trucking Associations’ annual Management Conference & Exhibition this week. “In September 2014, 61% of Americans opposed this,” Newhouse said. “Now it’s 55% in favor. There is a reason for optimism.”
Earlier this year, President Trump said he was open to the idea in an interview, but the White House press office quickly walked that back.
At the ATA conference, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), said, “We need to be serious” about infrastructure. “The infrastructure paralysis, in terms of funding you’ve seen, is a bipartisan problem.”
The infrastructure plan is reportedly on hold until tax reform is addressed on Capitol Hill. The Trump White House intends to unveil a long-term infrastructure funding plan after Congress completes tax reform, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told an audience at ATA on Oct. 23.