Several proposals have been floated on Capitol Hill that would give Americans a summer gas tax holiday by temporarily eliminating the federal 18.4 cents a gallon tax on fuel. While the Administration is remaining neutral on the question, I welcome the debate, and think it is a terrific opportunity to have a larger discussion about the gas tax.
As the primary federal funding mechanism for our national highway system, the gas tax is increasingly outdated, inefficient, and unpopular. When President Eisenhower envisioned our interstate system, he favored a user-pay method of financing its construction and maintenance. Unfortunately, he was limited by the technologies of his day.
Now, however, we have exciting new financing mechanisms that are supplementing the gas tax while simultaneously reducing congestion. Through the broad deployment of high-speed, open road tolling technologies coupled with hundreds of billions of dollars of private sector capital, we can begin eliminating our dependence on a failed gas tax-based transportation model.
It is time for our country to embrace a far more efficient, clean, and technology-based approach to charging for road use. This new approach will dramatically improve the quality and performance of our transportation systems. It will also give businesses and families the type of predictable and reliable service levels to which they have become accustomed when making phone calls, running the sink, or turning on the lights. We can also eliminate Washington’s ability to use our transportation network as its own personal—and political—sandbox.
The increased efficiency of our system would also reduce our impact on the environment, and cut emissions caused by endless tie-ups and traffic jams. Few policy ideas have such broad-based, positive impacts for our economy, our budget and our environment, and I am thrilled these ideas are now part of our national discussion.
What do you think?