Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Othering reduced spending

Jerry Stratton, March 6, 2015

Highway Trust Fund fixes (poll)

Is “reduce spending” really worse than “pretend problem doesn’t exist”?

Our local Community Impact recently ran a feature article about the Federal government’s Highway Trust Fund and the loss of revenue due mainly to people not driving as much during the great recession.

On their editorial page, they included a poll:

“What do you think is the best way to fix the Highway Trust Fund revenue problem?”

These are the pre-listed choices on top of “Other”:

  • Increase the gas tax and index it to inflation.
  • Continue to borrow from the general fund.
  • Give back more existing gas tax revenue to states.
  • Implement and increase various registration fees.
  • I do not think there is a problem with HTF revenue

I’m guessing that, as close to Austin as we are, the Impact doesn’t endorse less spending but… even given that bias is “reduce spending to match revenue” really a worse answer than the punctuation-challenged “I do not think there is a problem with HTF revenue”?1

I don’t think it should come as a surprise that “Other” is currently third, and nearly tied with the second-highest choice, “Give back more existing gas tax revenue to states.”

Highway Trust Fund poll results

I take some solace in that “Other” is not normally a high vote-getter.

The federal fuel tax is already 18.3 cents per gallon. That’s a 9.7% tax going by what I last paid for gas (yes, I’m one of those who doesn’t fill up their tank as often as the government would like) and about 8% against current prices. Those are high rates of sales tax,2 but the preferred option in Washington and Austin is to increase that percentage.

I’m almost tempted to support the option to index the gas tax to inflation, just to see how the government both denies that inflation is happening and uses inflation to increase the tax.

Wikipedia has a similarly odd statement, “As of 2015, despite a sharp drop in gas prices, strong resistance remained by both the American public and Congress to raising the gas tax.”

The American public knows that most of the time, when the price of something drops, the taxes on it drop as well. The fiscally-sound solution to fluctuating revenue is to spend less than the average and build up a savings account to cover times of lower revenue.

If they really want to index the gas tax to inflation, set it to, say, 5%, rather than a fixed amount. What they want is for the tax to go up when prices go up, but not go down when prices drop again. They want to index revenue, but not index spending.

In response to 2015 in photos: For photos and perhaps other quick notes sent from my mobile device or written on the fly during 2015.

  1. Yes, the final option was missing a period—it’s not a typo on my part.

  2. The percentage when the tax was enacted under Clinton in 1993 was over 16% (against gas fluctuating with a high of around $1.10).

  1. <- Twelve cookies
  2. Gun bakesales ->