We know that the Republican Party is the heartless party, but the newest method of extortion is one of the cruelest of all. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants the elderly and disabled, the people least likely to use highways, to pay for them.
The Highway Trust Fund is set to be insolvent by the end of the summer. The Highway Trust Fund was established in 1956 to repair and expand the highways. It has always been funded by gasoline taxes. When people started driving less because of the recession and higher gas prices, the tax revenue went down. On top of that, the gas tax has been set at 18.4 cents per gallon for over 20 years.
Democrats would like an increase in gas taxes to keep the program solvent, but with a tax refund for middle class people. Republicans disagree. They don’t want to raise taxes — at least not directly. McConnell simply wants to cut sustenance for the people who can least afford it.
The total package of spending cuts and program changes would raise about $80 billion, enough to pay for between three to four years of federal funding for road, bridge and transit projects while fulfilling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s promise to introduce a long-term highway bill this month. The retirement proposal would raise more than $30 billion of that total by cutting the rate of return on a popular retirement investment for federal employees.
The list of financing options is extremely tentative and negotiators are expected to continue working through the weekend to reach a deal.
‘That menu… it has the support of neither the Democratic or Republican caucuses at this point,’ Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters.
Source: Daily Kos
Oh, but it gets worse. One policy that’s been bandied about is to cut off social security for people who have outstanding arrest warrants, no matter how minor the offense. Note, these people paid into the system. Another would strip people of disability benefits.
Perhaps Republicans are right in that the highways should not be funded by gasoline taxes. The vast majority of highway use is to benefit commerce, either by shipping goods, transporting workers or shoppers. Perhaps it’s time corporations paid for the highways they benefit from.
Featured image via Gage Skidmore on Flickr