Via Barry Ritholz’s blog, here’s a chart showing the US Federal gas tax relative to other nations:
Ritholz cites US Chamber of Commerce pressure to increase the Federal gas tax, but also the Congressional dysfunction that makes such an increase unlikely. Here’s a quote from his conclusion:
This may be a symptom of national decline rather than a cause. The U.S. often starts out full of energy and vigor when it comes to new and daunting tasks — and has been willing to spend lots of cold hard cash. But these days we lose enthusiasm about halfway through. The Marshall Plan and the Apollo moon mission stand out as examples of huge projects that took years of follow through.1 Or how about the Eisenhower-era Interstate Highway System, which is deteriorating even as we write because of lack of funding from the gas tax? But it’s harder to name recent bold projects of comparable scope that have been undertaken and seen through to completion.
Now, if you want to see a country that does take on those big, bold projects, look no further than China. If we were to determine which nation is on the rise based on investment in infrastructure, which country looks to be rising and which looks like a nation in retreat?
I would like nothing better than for Congress to prove me wrong. Pass a gas tax and bring America’s bridges, tunnels and roads fully up to date with smart-traffic controls and embedded signals ready for the next generation of autonomous vehicles. Rebuild the nation’s dismal sea and airports, harden our electrical and data grid, make the nation’s infrastructure again the world’s best.
For my druthers, an increased gas tax would be fine as long as the revenue went into some funds that decreased driving and CO2 emissions. A gas tax funding the Green New Deal? That would be an amazing policy.
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