Friday, August 10, 2007

Let's Hold Our Horses as They Trample Over the Bridges

My crack staff really knows what it's doing. Check out my statement against the calls for a small gas tax increase to raise moneys to rebuild the nation's crumbling infrastructure:

Whoa now. Let’s hold our horses a minute and think about the calls for new tax increases to fix our infrastructure problems. The Minneapolis bridge collapse is a tragedy, but we can’t let it be used to compound other problems – which is what will happen if we’re scared into raising gas taxes. . . .

The cause of our infrastructure troubles is not a lack of money; but the politics and bureaucracy that have built up around the funding process. Now, the people who have done their best to micromanage local infrastructure spending from their Washington D.C. offices are exploiting tragedy to further federalize our transportation system. Why don’t we let states determine which infrastructure problems are their priority? Are bridge repairs a priority in Arizona? Alaska? Hawaii? Maybe, but let’s let the people decide what needs fixing, when, and how they want to pay for it—taxes, bonds, or tolls, for example.

That's a real conservative two-fer: opposing tax increases and demanding less federal, more local control.

It's not just posturing: I really do believe we need more local control. Some folks say Texas, for example, sends more highway tax money to Washington than it gets back in highways and bridges. Some say that's the point: Texas benefits when folks outside of Texas are able to use the highways to go to Texas.

But I think local control means that if Texas doesn't want people to drive to Texas, it should be able to pull back its funds. If Texas wants to wall itself off with a whole Iron Curtain between it and, say, Arkansas, then good for Texas. Why should bureaucrats in Washington insist on having a nation connected by roads? How is that good for America?

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