House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has delayed a vote on the $260 BILLION highway bill, signaling that he doesn’t have the votes. Rumors are that he plans to split the bill into pieces to try to pass them. The House bill will have to be reconciled with the Senate’s legislation which has little similarity to the House bill. The Highway Trust Fund has habitually been robbed by Congress. The fund was bailed out. For the future, I say no highway spending. Keep the money in the Trust Fund at least until it fully repairs itself, and then put automatic impeachment into play for any legislator ever again trying to put his filthy paws in the cookie jar. Unacceptable – Republicans calling their bill a “Jobs Bill.”
The above graphic is the latest detailing I can find. Note that we began the theft in 2008, as we did it through Public Law 110-318, which used language saying we were “restoring” the Highway Trust Fund by replenishing it through the U.S. Treasury. Public Law 111-46 accomplished the same.
Two major components of the Republican bill: It will be partially funded through expanded oil drilling and it will no longer be a funding source for mass transit like buses, subways, etc. In other words currently, mass transit needn’t support itself – and under the Republican legislation, they would have to actually compete for customers. I never ride a bus. Haven’t had a subway anywhere near me in decades, no trains around. Yet I pay for others to use those services.
Here is how highway funding works, and once again we see that Congress has robbed yet another trust fund:
Every six years, Congress passes a spending bill that divvies up the revenues from the federal gas tax and other highway user fees. The money goes into an account called the Highway Trust Fund, and for decades Congress has promised not to spend more on roads and bridges than is available in the trust fund.
But the trust fund has run dry thanks to reckless spending and wasteful earmarks, so Congress bailed out the highway program—to the total tune of about $35 billion—in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Circulating now are two competing highway bills that both increase spending and force new multibillion-dollar bailouts. The Senate bill spends $109 billion over two years and includes a $12 billion bailout of the trust fund. The House bill spends $260 billion over five years and includes a $50 billion bailout.
The article above from the Wall Street Journal says that the Senate bill pays for the cost of the bailout with accounting gimmicks, while the House is counting on the drilling and mass transit components, which are nowhere near a sure bet. Neither piece of legislation repeals the Davis Bacon Act which forces union wages on the project.
According to the Heritage Foundation, Davis-Bacon cost taxpayers nearly $11 billion in 2011—money that should be going to fix bridges, not line the pockets of union bosses. It’s no wonder Democrats support Davis-Bacon: It’s a congressionally mandated kickback to unions that funnels millions to Democratic campaigns every year. But why do Republicans lack the courage to stand up against wasteful regulations and spending?
“Continuing to fund programs above dedicated revenue sources will inevitably lead to revenue increases (i.e., tax hikes) or bailouts,” the Heritage email continued. “While it does not contain earmarks, MAP-21 would reward states whose congressional delegations were successful in obtaining above-the-line-earmarks in SAFETEA-LU by locking in those higher funding levels.
“Congress should live within its means, as opposed to perpetuating ever growing albeit somewhat streamlined government, and focus on ways to empower states such as opt-out provisions or devolution,” the email concluded.
Gasoline sales are the main source of highway funding. The administration wants electric and hybrid autos on our highways, and wants oil and gas to go away. Predictions are that a gallon of gas will cost $5 within a few months. If we aren’t driving, where will the funding come from? If we aren’t drilling, where will the funding come from?
The insanity never stops. Remember the $787 BILLION stimulus designed, to the mind of the naive, to fund “shovel ready” highway jobs, but funded little but the pockets of Obama cronies, unions, teachers and such? Why not pay back the BILLIONs of dollars of bailout funds? Put all remaining monies into the Trust Fund and keep it there for another 6 years to do what it is intended to do – grow and reap interest to be used as intended? Forget all highway bills until we can pay for them. Never again rob the trust fund under penalty of automatic impeachment for any legislator voting to do so, or any legislator bringing such legislation to committee or the floor. Note to House Freshman: you must not vote for this bill. If you are threatened with losing a committee seat or chair, hold your line in the sand. Refuse to be bullied, and if you are, have the courage to get to a microphone and tell us about it.