House Pair Invoke Reagan to Promote Fuel Tax Hike

December 3, 2014

By Oliver Patton

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Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., (right) and Tom Petri, R-Wis., called for passage of a bill to raise the tax and quoted from Reagan’s call to do the same.
Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., (right) and Tom Petri, R-Wis., called for passage of a bill to raise the tax and quoted from Reagan’s call to do the same.

A bipartisan pair of House Representatives invoked the spirit of conservative champion Ronald Reagan to push for a fuel tax increase to revive the Highway Trust Fund.

Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Tom Petri, R-Wis., called for passage of a bill to raise the tax and quoted from Reagan’s call to do the same.

“We simply cannot allow this magnificent [Interstate] system to deteriorate beyond repair,” Reagan said in 1982 in a radio address on the need for the tax hike. “Common sense tells us that it’ll cost a lot less to keep the system we have in good repair than to let it crumble and then have to start all over again. Good tax policy decrees that wherever possible a fee for a service should be assessed against those who directly benefit from that service.”

Less than two months later Reagan signed the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982, which raised the gasoline tax from 4 cents to 9 cents a gallon.

Blumenauer has introduced a bill that would raise gasoline and diesel taxes by 15 cents over three years and index it to inflation.

Petri, who is retiring from Congress this year, said he is cosponsoring Blumenauer’s bill “because we need a first-rate transportation system and the responsible thing to do is pay for it.”

American Trucking Associations joined a chorus of support for the bill.

“Underinvestment in highways is an enormous burden on the trucking industry, raising the cost of moving freight and undermining the reliability of a logistics system that is critical to our nation’s competitiveness,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves in a statement.

“ATA continues its call for additional investment in highway projects made possible by this new revenue will significantly improve the safety, reliability and efficiency of the trucking industry, to the benefit of all Americans.”

There is some support for a fuel tax hike in the Senate – Democrat Tom Carper of Delaware is a proponent – but it would be a heavy lift in this lame duck session of Congress. The tax committees have not held hearings and Congress is struggling even to pass funding legislation for federal programs through the rest of the fiscal year.



  1. 1. nick S [ December 04, 2014 @ 05:46AM ]

    @steve....why earl and not Petri????

  2. 2. CT [ December 04, 2014 @ 05:49AM ]

    The only problem with this Bill in contrast to Reagan is:
    In 1982, the Iran oil embargo had peaked, but Reagan also invested and heavily spurred domestic energy production to help offset this.
    As a result, while gasoline prices peaked in 1982, they also began to fall rapidly when Reagan introduced his Bill.
    In contrast to today, Obama has done everything he can at the Federal level to limit fossil fuel production. The current shale & oil production we see is derived from private & State owned lands which he currently can't limit, but is actively trying through broader EPA regulations & "Green"Bills. In short, if you want to see this Bill as a success, you have to give a little before you take a little. This is something that is foreign to this current Administration. Reagan understood the benefits of negotiation; Obama will never negotiate...

  3. 3. Woodrow [ December 04, 2014 @ 06:49AM ]

    Here in Atlanta there was a water shortage due to drought a few years ago. Took everybody to conserve and everybody did. Then they said we are not making enough money so they jacked the rates. Rates did not go back down.

    That being said, when they whine about the last tax hike there were a heck of a lot few people in the US. We are asked to conserve and have more fuel efficient cars. Like Atlanta, they feds want to jack the price!

    However, with the increased population (especially the illegals) they are getting more money than ever before!!!

  4. 4. Cliff Downing [ December 04, 2014 @ 12:18PM ]

    A fuel tax hike would be ok if they also put in any tax bill that no funds from this hike may be spent on junk like fancy beautification stuff or to study why monkeys have excreta fights at the zoo.

  5. 5. Ray puckett [ December 10, 2014 @ 05:29AM ]

    Stop wasting tax dollars. The revenue the fed gets today is wider the the Atlantic ocean and runs as fast as the Mississippi River. Politicians cannot be trusted with any additional money. Increase production of fuel, stop wasting road taxes on other junk, and it is mainly junk. Instead of rebuilding Ferguson MO use those tax dollars for highway projects. Just one example of stupid Washington spending, they are thousands more of examples of government waste. My senator and Congressiona Rep will hear from me on this matter. I along with thousands pay this federal government far too much now.


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