by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Mark Tapscott‘s latest Washington Examiner column examines the mismatch between government’s transportation funding priorities and the public’s transportation needs.
More than 90 percent of Americans depend upon their personal cars and trucks to get to and from work every day. But many government officials at all levels seem determined to make life miserable for drivers.
They won’t say it in those words, but that is what many public officials, including especially the bureaucrats who run zoning, transportation and economic development agency, intend to be the result of their policies.
Why? So commuters will leave their cars at home and take mass transit instead. That justifies bigger budgets and staffs for the bureaucrats.
This is the ugly secret at the heart of federal transportation policy. It’s why one of every four tax dollars collected for the Highway Trust Fund is actually spent, according to the Heritage Foundation, on “subways, streetcars, buses, bicycle and nature paths, and landscaping.”
Bureaucrats love mass transit because mass transit goes where they want it to go when they want it to go there. Bureaucrats hate private cars and trucks because drivers decide where to go instead of bureaucrats. Government control versus individual freedom.
The Highway Trust Fund is projected to face a $58 billion deficit over the next four years, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Increasing the federal gas tax, and maybe even imposing added per-mile commuter taxes, are the favored “solutions” among liberal Democrats and “smart growth” advocates in the bureaucracy.
The better alternative from the perspective of the 90+ percent of Americans who travel in private cars and trucks is to stop spending one of every four tax dollars on mass transit and start spending those dollars instead on fixing existing highways and bridges, and building desperately needed new ones.