You may not have heard, but it seems that the federal government may soon come calling for another $100 billion we don’t have - this time for transportation. While many people were focusing on the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) ObamaCare numbers, the agency also released some little-noticed financial details about the Highway Trust Fund’s shortcomings.
The non-partisan CBO projects that the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) will be unable to meet obligations starting in fiscal year 2015, and will thus require either transfers from the General Fund, or – you guessed it – tax increases. Instead, to meet the $100 billion in obligations, Congress should cut spending elsewhere. Congress has continually taken shortcuts in the budget process, allowing them to spend recklessly and without transparency. They should pay for these transportation obligations by eliminating wasteful elsewhere in their appropriations, and keep the Highway Trust Fund’s excessive spending in mind when it considers reauthorization of the transportation bill later this year.
HTF is running out of money because it is not focusing on the most pressing problems of repairing badly damaged roads and bridges, instead wasting money on low-priority projects that sway from HTF’s primary responsibilities. Rather than asking taxpayers to dig even deeper into their wallets or borrowing even more money from our children and grandchildren, the federal government ought to minimize transportation responsibilities, eliminate wasteful spending, and focus on actually improving roads.
Many on the left will use the CBO report to call for increasing the gasoline tax, but this is bad economics and bad principle. Further subsidizing wasteful spending will only make it worse.