April 19, 2019
No New Taxes
President Trump has proved to be a man of his promise. We have seen him come through on campaign issues on which he ran like immigration and life. This year, he may add another issue to his repertoire: infrastructure. While Congress seems to be in disarray with Democrats holding the majority in the House and Republicans barely holding a majority in the Senate, the President believes that he can work out a bipartisan solution to the United States’ infrastructure problem.
An infrastructure package could be a tricky undertaking with everyone wanting a share of money for their state. For example, from 2001 to 2007, Rep. Don Young (D-AK) used his chairmanship of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to funnel $400 million of taxpayer money to his state to build a bridge in a remote area. This became known as the “Bridge to Nowhere” which highlighted the problems of earmarks. Corrupt practices like this have tainted favorable views of infrastructure bills, so Congress will need to be transparent about this process.
Perhaps, the biggest concern is how Congress will decide to fund these projects. One of the proposed ways would be the implementation of a gas tax. Americans already spend an extra 18.4-cents per gallon at the pump. Recent proposals have included a 25-cent increase raising the cost to 43.4 cents per gallon. Not only will the American people feel this burden on their daily commutes, but suffer the consequences of an over-taxed economy. Transportation of goods, public transit, and agriculture will take a hit as well. While a bill of this measure will require a large amount of funding, Congress should be able to find that money already in the budget.
Eagle Forum recently signed onto a coalition letter lead by Americans for Prosperity urging the House and Senate to oppose any efforts to increase the gas tax. A better infrastructure does not have to come at the cost of a poor economy.
A Spending Caps Win
Last week, Congress planned to vote on raising the federal government spending caps by $360.8 trillion. In a win for Conservatives, Democrats failed to agree on measures in the Investing for the People Act (H.R. 2021). Specifically, they clashed over a Progressive Congressional Caucus amendment which would add a combined $67 billion to nondefense limits in fiscal years 2020 and 2021.
Since most House Republicans were expected to oppose this deficit raising legislation, House Democrats could only afford to lose 17 votes. Fearing embarrassment on the House Floor, the legislation was pulled from consideration by House leadership.
In the meantime, Republican members should use this opportunity to come up with a plan that cuts spending and balances the budget rather than wait for Democrats to come up with a new plan that further increases the national debt and funds programs like Planned Parenthood.
Because you took action, any additional wasteful spending by Congress is tempered for now. Eagle Forum will continue to keep you up to date on future Congressional budget efforts.