The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is suggesting to Congress that they implement taxes on drivers, including “congestion pricing,” in order to increase federal revenue for the Highway Trust Fund.
Congestion pricing is a tax on the use of high-traffic areas and is implemented as a way to reduce traffic. Congestion pricing is one of a few solutions offered by an economist with the CBO to raise federal revenue for the Highway Trust Fund.
The Feds impose a tax of 18.4 cents per gallon on gas. It’s 24.4 cents per gallon of diesel. We’ve had federal gas taxes since the 50’s to pay for highways and bridges, but since 1983, they started diverting about 20% of gas taxes to go to a Mass Transit Account that is supposed to pay for public transportation like buses and railways. So, those of us who don’t use mass transit are paying for those that do in the form of gas taxes. (That’s socialism for you.)
We’ve had the 18.4-cent per gallon tax since 1993 under the Clinton administration. Nowadays, with the further destruction of the dollar, that 18.4 cents just doesn’t buy what it used to. The Highway Trust Fund (which includes the Mass Transit Account) continues to face insolvency.
To avoid insolvency, members of Congress have floated ideas ranging from raising the federal gas tax to charging drivers for every mile they drive – called a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) tax. Ironically, the loss in federal gas tax revenue is partially blamed on the rise in the use of “green” vehicles that don’t use gasoline as much or at all.
Now the CBO is coming up with more ideas to raise federal revenue. Here are some of their suggestions, according to their report:
“Policymakers could have the federal government – or allow states or private businesses to – charge drivers directly for their use of more roads than they are currently charging for using.
“The Congress could incorporate more direct pricing of the use of roads in a number of ways, including: Implementing vehicle-miles traveled charges; facilitating more congestion pricing; or allowing tolling on additional existing Interstates.
“To make federal highway spending more productive for the economy, policymakers could adopt different approaches to managing highways and determining how to allocate funds, including: Charging drivers; using benefit-cost analysis; or linking spending to performance.”
Instead of trying to cut spending, their natural inclination is to find something else to tax.