Why Federal Highway Policy Is a Speed Bump Slowing Down Better Roads

The Daily Signal | 7/12/2019 | Staff
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David Ditch is a research assistant in the Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget at The Heritage Foundation.

Taxpayers from all 50 states pay into the Highway Trust Fund when they fill their tanks with gas or diesel fuel.

Billions - Dollars - Year - Washington - Checks

That sends billions of dollars a year to Washington, which then cuts checks to state governments in the form of infrastructure grants overseen by federal bureaucrats.

It’s hard to tell just what shuffling so much money from one level of government to another is supposed to accomplish. In point of fact, the system creates many speed bumps that prevent our highway system from delivering the value it ought to.

Senate - Environment - Public - Works - Committee

A Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on Wednesday provided few reasons to justify continuing down the current road.

The subject of the hearing was legislation to reauthorize the federal surface transportation system, which the committee chairman, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., is hoping to unveil before Congress’ August recess.

Senators - Panelists - Problems - Highway - Trust

Senators and the panelists acknowledged several problems with the Highway Trust Fund.

First, the fund is running an annual deficit and will be depleted in the next two years, which will require bringing taxes and spending into alignment. That would be an improvement from the 2015 highway bill, which added $70 billion to the national debt by transferring money from the general fund.

Prospect - Law - Periods - Barrasso - States

Second, the prospect of simply extending the current law for short periods would be counterproductive. As Barrasso noted, that would “undermine our states’ ability to plan” infrastructure projects.

While that statement is accurate, it also points to one of the problems with today’s bloated federal government; namely, that states have become dependent on Washington for the provision of many basic services.

Regularity - Gridlock - Congress - Government - Role

Considering the regularity of gridlock in Congress, expanding the federal government’s role seems foolhardy. If we’re counting on the House and the Senate for road maintenance,...
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