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U.S. President Barack Obama introduces Mayor Anthony Foxx (L) of Charlotte, North Carolina, as his nominee to replace Ray LaHood as U.S. Transportation Secretary in the East Room of the White House in Washington, April 29, 2013.  REUTERS/Larry Downing  (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTXZ3UG
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and President Obama
America's infrastructure—its bridges, roads, tunnels, sewer systems—is in dire need of repair and replacement. Tuesday afternoon, President Obama sounded the warning yet again, focusing on the Highway Trust Fund, which could soon run out if Congress doesn't take action:
The president will argue “that by closing unfair tax loopholes for companies that ship profits overseas, we can invest in rebuilding our infrastructure,” according to a White House official.

The president could advocate a plan similar to that offered by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who has proposed an $8 billion package that would keep the trust fund operating throughout the end of the year. Wyden’s plan is funded primarily through tougher enforcement of existing tax laws.

True to form, Republicans are suggesting that roads could be paid for by eliminating Saturday mail delivery or by pushing the states to crack down and collect more online sales taxes—in other words, collecting more taxes from corporations to pay for roads is out of the question, but collecting more taxes from people when they order diapers online is just fine. There's not a lot of time to waste on this:
During the first week of August, [Transportation Secretary Anthony] Foxx said, the administration anticipates that the funds will dip below the critical $4 billion threshold (and it anticipates they will run out completely by the end of the month). When the funds fall below that threshold, states will no longer be reimbursed for transportation projects as they send in the bills. Instead, the administration will “implement a new process of cash management” in which states will be paid every two weeks as revenues from the gas tax (which feeds the Highway Trust Fund) come in.

Foxx spoke in largely vague terms about the potential impact that such a change in formula would have. Governors, he said, were “going to have to make judgments based on a more limited allotment of dollars.” In some states, projects would be slowed down. In others they would be stopped altogether. And in others, it might be determined that they should proceed, with the state issuing IOUs in lieu of payments. Overall, Foxx said, the situation was dire.

Slowing down or stopping projects during peak construction season risks leaving them uncompleted as winter arrives and also potentially risks huge numbers of jobs. It's a lose-lose. But we've seen this congressional standoff before, so add roads to the long list of things Democrats have suggested paying for by closing a few corporate tax loopholes and Republicans have suggested paying for by cutting services to working people.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Tue Jul 01, 2014 at 11:04 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  As usual, the most rational and logical solution (13+ / 0-)

    to the Highway Trust Fund - proposed by the President, will end up in ashes in the House.  This will be one issue the President will not be able to use executive orders to get around Congress.

    And any governor who isn't worried about this probably doesn't belong in office.

    "The truest measure of compassion lies not in our service of those on the margins, but in our willingness to see ourselves in kinship with them." Father Gregory Boyle, Homeboy Industries

    by Mr MadAsHell on Tue Jul 01, 2014 at 11:29:54 AM PDT

  •  For the thousanth damned time - (6+ / 0-)

    Sales tax on interstate commerce is unconstitutional - no matter how many numbskulls out there try to spin it: Article 1, Section 9.5 for those who care, which, quoted, reads: "No tax or duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State."

    To all the republicans out there who have made a career out of revising history, reinterpreting reality and thumbing their noses at the law while extolling it's sacrosanct virtues - please leave this country and take your shill philosophies to someplace where they'll be appreciated - North Korea or Somalia come to mind...

  •  I HATE this Congress, (13+ / 0-)

    or should I say House of Representative, that would have our country fall to such disrepair because a few multi-billion dollar multi-nationals can't cough up a few bucks to keep us afloat.

    They are all traitors to this country.  I HATE them all.

    Wouldn't a bridge falling on Jamie Diamond just about do it?

  •  So no one is even going to propose raising... (5+ / 0-)

    ...the gasoline tax?

    Transportation advocates such as the AAA Auto Club have pushed for lawmakers to increase the gas tax for the first time since 1993 to pay for a longer transportation bill, but the idea appears to be a non-starter, with many lawmakers and the White House opposed.
    Well, I guess at least two people are trying:
    Transportation advocates cheered the possibility of a bipartisan compromise last week when Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) called for lawmakers to implement a 12-cents-per-gallon gas tax increase over the next two years to pay for a new transportation bill.
    •  Agree completely (5+ / 0-)

      While I support Obama in trying to close those corporate tax loopholes, I don't really think it is the appropriate way to fund highways.  Increasing the gas tax and indexing it to inflation is, since it means that roads will be paid for by those who use them -- and non-drivers won't be forced to subsidize those of us who do drive..  

      So in this instance, I don't agree with either the president or the Republicans, who are both trying to find ways of dodging the underlying issue, which is that the gas tax has been undermined by twenty plus years of inflation.

      If Democrats proclaim the the Earth is round and Republicans insist it is flat, we will shortly see a column in the Washington Post claiming the the earth is really a semi-circle.

      by TexasTom on Tue Jul 01, 2014 at 12:02:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The problem with the gasoline tax (0+ / 0-)

      is that it affects the middle class more than the rich.  And the corporations need to pay their fair share for a change.

  •  Collecting sales tax on Internet purchases is fair (4+ / 0-)

    and completely appropriate.  

    Skipping sales tax is just another way Amazon and other retailers compete unfairly with local merchants.  My spouse's bike shop competes with Internet shippers that actively brag about no sales tax in 48 states.  (Plus their products generally suck and their customers get mad when her mechanics can't magically make them fit or when they learn that it costs a lot to build them up properly.)

    First it was Walmart, getting local tax breaks and highway and utility expansions to put Main Street out of business, now it's Internet retailers who want to free ride on the services paid for by everybody else's taxes.

    I prefer income and wealth taxes to sales taxes in general, but we need to reduce the distortions and make sure taxes are paid fairly across all platforms.

  •  More terrible policy from this President and (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JG in MD

    Congress. With the real U-6 unemployment rate north of 10% and the unlimited ability to create the US Dollar, our sorry politicians (Dems included) are fighting over unnecessarily raising taxes. As if our national currency actually comes from corporations and citizens, ridiculous. There is only one body on Earth with the Constitutional authority to make Dollars and thats Congress.

    The US Dollar comes from the US Govt, not rich people, not corporations, and not China.

    "The Earth is my country and Science my religion" Christiaan Huygens. The gold standard ended on August 15, 1971, its time we start acting like it. If we can afford full employment killing Germans, we can afford full employment during peace-time.

    by Auburn Parks on Tue Jul 01, 2014 at 12:38:25 PM PDT

  •  It is ludicrous... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sychotic1, sethtriggs, shambie, worldlotus

    for republicans to suggest that there is money to be saved, gleaned from doing away with Saturday mail delivery.
    Were that to happen, it wouldn't even be enough to make the Postal Service itself solvent, let alone provide any funds for infrastructure expenditures.
    How gullible/dumb do they think we are?
    Or perhaps more to the point, how many ARE actually gullible/dumb enough to believe such a line?
    Republicans LOVE taxation, as long as the monies are being paid by the working poor,  I mean, working class.
    Once they have obtained those funds, they don't earmark them for things like infrastructure spending anyway....
    They simply go to providing even more tax relief for corporations and the wealthy,  and additional unnecessary, unwanted funding for the military.

    •  Think 36 trillion hidden off shore (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Have to have a transaction tax on the New Youk Stock exchange. it is the only way to get a fair share before the money leaves the country. Call it a country use tax LOL the price of doing business on United States Soil .

  •  OBAMAS GONE TO FAR (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The is GOP will wage war against women, minorities, workers, seniors, children, veterans, voters and students, because they feel they are fair game, but when Obama goes after the rich, now that's crossing the line, that's going to far, you mess with the GOP's rich or their mistresses, they are not fair game.

  •  Gee, with all the money newly-religious corpora... (4+ / 0-)

    Gee, with all the money newly-religious corporations are going to save by not offering coverage for birth control or other 'objectionable' things (cough anything related to women's rights or equal pay cough), they can AFFORD to pay more taxes...

  •  Thugs thinks its win-win for them: less jobs=blame (0+ / 0-)

    Obama, and they 'stopped another Obama tax raise!'

    It is irrelevant that we actually need massive infrastructure repair and new construction - bullet trains? safer road and brides?  too European apparently - and generally a good idea to pay for what we need to spend when it is a relatively easy fix -with the ay gas prices go up and down every other week no one would even notice a phased in gas tax raise.

    But, as usual with Thugs, lazy politics trumps all.

  •  Gas tax, anyone? (0+ / 0-)

    This is one issue where I feel Obama has mishandled things, and it cost Jim Oberstar his congressional seat in 2010 -- there was a plan, written by Oberstar, ready to go, to fund transportation, and the administration got all cold feet about Oberstar's intentions (raise the gas tax sharply) because hybrids and plug-ins.

    Fair enough, but there's a huge, but somewhat time-limited, opportunity to make the transition to hybrids and plugins go faster in part by using one last hurrah of the gas tax to get our infrastructure house in order.

    Will the Administration now please push for it?   Of course the Republicans won't go for it without a tremendous amount of prodding and probably also lost elections, but it needs paying for somehow and this would be an economically and environmentally sound way of doing it.  Especially because, in the aftermath of the NSA revelations, would you want to even try to fund transportation through any user fee with location information, such as almost all current tolling?

  •  Par for the course. (0+ / 0-)

    Should we really expect anything else from Republicans that have had their party hijacked by Teabaggers and other extremists.

  •  Conservative (whether Republican or Democrat) =... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Conservative (whether Republican or Democrat) = Asshole!

    “A Day in the Life of Joe Republican-Conservative"

    (The Truth Hurts)

    Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee.

    The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards.

    With his first swallow of coffee, he takes his daily medication.

    His medications are safe to take because some stupid liberal fought to insure their safety and that they work as advertised.

    All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer’s medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance – now Joe gets it too.


    He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs.

    Joe’s bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

    In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.


    Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath.

    The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air.

    He walks to the subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work.

    It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

    Joe begins his work day. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards.

    Joe’s employer pays these standards because Joe’s employer doesn’t want his employees to call the union.

    If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he’ll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn’t think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

    Its noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills.

    Joe’s deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe’s money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.

    Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime.

    Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive.

    His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards.

    He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers’ Home Administration because bankers didn’t want to make rural loans.

    The house didn’t have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck His nose where it didn’t belong and demanded rural electrification.

    He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn’t have to.

    Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good.

    He doesn’t mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day.

    Joe agrees: “We don’t need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I’m a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have.”

  •  It's all so unnecessary! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Collectively speaking, we already have all the money we would ever need - to rebuild the freeways, highways & roads; to repair all the crumbling bridges; to upgrade the water & sewer systems; to upgrade the electrical grid; to build out the Internet backbone; etc.  To say nothing of funding public education; hiring back all the teachers, police officers, firefighters & EMTs who were laid off as a result of the states' self-inflicted "budget crises"; to fund a genuine single-payer healthcare system; and so much more.

    The problem is that so much of that public money has been siphoned off from the Treasury into private & corporate hands - where it now sits, securely deposited in offshore bank accounts - in the Cayman Islands, in the Canary Islands, and elsewhere.  And The Great Wealth Transfer continues to this very moment.

    Hence the Republican claim that "we're broke" and "we can't afford it".  Well "we" could well afford everything that "we" need - if "we" would simply take back what belongs to the people.  Maybe it really is time for a little revolution:

    I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. [...] It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government.

    ~ Thomas Jefferson

    All that is necessary for the triumph of the Right is that progressives do nothing.

    by Mystic Michael on Wed Jul 02, 2014 at 07:27:30 AM PDT

  •  I'm sure republicans (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    will say this is overreach and tyranny until the next bridge collapses. Then it will be Obama's fault.

  •  Highway Funds (0+ / 0-)

    Even though I live in a teabagger run state, Ohio, only give transportation money to blue states. I know not possible, would be okay and let teabaggers live in their Ayn Rand paradise. Be gentle with me, first time posting.

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