I wonder if Sen. Bob Corker has any idea of the contempt many of us in the Tea Party movement harbor for him. Now that driver are beginning to see some relief from high gasoline prices the senator thinks the federal government should claim its share of the windfall. Corker, who never had any trouble working across the aisle to aggrandize federal largess has co-sponsored with Sen. Chris Murphy a bill to shore up the nearly depleted Highway Trust Fund. The bill would supposedly raise $164 billion over the next 10 years by increasing the gasoline tax from 18.4 cents to 30.4 cents.
It would be bad enough if the senator would simply concede that it would break the GOP's pledge of no new taxes but subterfuge seems to be the first, last, and only refuge of weasels like Corker. It would be offset by reducing taxes in other areas. According to Corker, the bill could increase the research and development tax credit, a tax gimmick that supposedly encourages small businesses to buy business equipment. Wow! Gee Senator, you empathy for Americans who have seen their standard of living decline for nearly a decade is boundless.
The Highway Trust Fund could more fittingly be called the Highway Slush Fund. The tax is paid entirely by motorists who have every right to expect that their roads and bridges be kept in good repair but the distribution side of the HTF is quite a bit more democratic. The HTF has been looted to fund parochial projects such as streetcars, buses, bicycle and nature paths, and landscaping but the largest diversion is "mass transit" which is mainly concentrated in just six metro areas, Washington, D.C., New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. The subway riders do not contribute one dime to the fund yet they receive 17% of the of the outlays notwithstanding that they are but 1% of the population. This is not merely for capital spending such as new construction or updating the rolling stock but also for operating budgets. Motorist nationwide offset local spending in these 6 Democratically controlled metros.
What Sen. Corker wants is not a solution to the funding problem but rather the perpetuation of a dismal breech of trust that produced the Bridge to Nowhere. Motorists are expected to pay more for a system that does not work.