Obama Repeats Call for Tax Reform to Pay for Highway Bill

January 21, 2015

By Oliver Patton

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"21st-century businesses need a 21st-century infrastructure." Photo: video screen shot
"21st-century businesses need a 21st-century infrastructure." Photo: video screen shot

UPDATED -- President Obama used his State of the Union address Tuesday night to repeat his call to reform corporate taxes and spend some of the proceeds on a long-term highway bill.

His infrastructure message came in the context of a broader populist appeal for reforms that increase taxes on the wealthiest and ease the burden on the less well off.

“We need a tax code that truly helps working Americans trying to get a leg up in the new economy,” he said.

Even in a divided Congress, there is bipartisan support for investment in infrastructure, he said. “Members of both parties have told me so.”

The money for the highway program, which is due for renewal in May, should come from closing tax loopholes that encourage businesses to keep their profits abroad, he said. “Let’s use those savings to rebuild our infrastructure and make it more attractive for companies to bring jobs home.”

This is the approach to infrastructure funding Obama has been pushing for several years – it echoes almost exactly the language he used in last year’s State of the Union address.

It is similar in some respects to the approach suggested by the former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., but the new chairman, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has not yet said what he has in mind for transportation funding.

Ryan’s counterpart in the Senate, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, chairman of the Finance Committee, has said he opposes the idea of using repatriated tax dollars for infrastructure.

There’s not enough money in the approach, he told Politico. He did say that the Finance Committee is looking for other ways to pay for a multi-year bill.

American Trucking Associations officials voiced disappointment that President Obama failed to more fully flesh out his vision for a well-funded, long-term highway bill.

"Just mentioning infrastructure is not a solution to our nation's critical needs, and by simply bringing the topic up without details, President Obama missed an opportunity to underscore the critical role our highway system plays in our economic well being," said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves in a statement.

"Now is the time, with the Highway Trust Fund set to go bankrupt in May, to show vision and leadership and most importantly, find funding, to keep that from happening," Graves said.

ATA was represented at the State of the Union by First Vice Chairman Pat Thomas, vice president of global public affairs at UPS. Watch this video of Thomas discussing attending President Obama's annual address to Congress:

Updated 2:30 EST to add ATA response


  1. 1. Hans [ January 22, 2015 @ 06:42AM ]

    The problem in Washington is not the tax revenue issue as much as it is the money for the Federal Highway Trust Fund is constantly being redirected to other pet projects and areas deemed important by the current administration. All those shovel ready jobs promised year ago as just another false promise by the administration. What the American public needs is term limits to prevent the corruption of the life long thieves in Washington to govern as the public wants not according to their personal pocket books.

  2. 2. Watchingu2 [ January 22, 2015 @ 07:03AM ]

    Like making bike path's Han's ?? I agree !! I might add as long as the crooks use class envy to get what they want we will all loose. You don't uplift the poor and middle class by bringing down someone else. His speech was for the LO-Info sheep !!

  3. 3. Cliff Downing [ January 22, 2015 @ 07:08AM ]

    And, Barry, I repeat my call to reign in fraud, waste, and abuse of the people's money that is already confiscated for road infrastructure. When we could build 50 miles of road in a month back in the 40's, seems a little strange that it takes 50 months now to just do a road interchange. No, Barry, your repeated calls for increased funding are going on deaf ears. At least until the government starts demanding true accountability of the taxpayers money for this.

  4. 4. Tim [ January 22, 2015 @ 07:21AM ]

    The problem is that some voters send politicians to Washington who have no intention of representing their interest. They get elected on a platform of being against everthing Obama is for. The problem with that is that Obama represents their interest more than the ppl they elect. ATA sits on the sideline and stays neutral or critizes Obama instead of applying maxium pressure on the Republican Congress who refuse to do anything on infrastructure unless they can ectract more tax cuts for welthy donors. Paul Ryan & Orrin Hatch will not support ATA's agenda until they are pressured by GOP voters and ATA leadership to do so.

  5. 5. Watchingu2 [ January 22, 2015 @ 08:40AM ]

    Tim you just made my point Lo - INFO !! Thank You !!

  6. 6. Tim [ January 22, 2015 @ 10:02AM ]

    Watchingu2, Not getting your logic. Tax policy doesn't benefit the middle class. Thank God for the wealth I've accumulated and I'm sure my taxes are much lower than yours. Thanks for advocating for me though. I'm sure you'll figure it all out. Good luck!

  7. 7. Smith [ January 22, 2015 @ 12:17PM ]

    Here's a crazy idea. Stop subsidizing EV's for no good reason and use that money for highways and then grow a pair Mr. President and add 50¢ per gallon tax to gasoline (still keeping US fuel prices way lower that the rest of the developed world) and use that as well. Then the highway bill monies will be covered and this will reduce the deficit and help to reduce the debt for the future generations, as the current course will be drown them. Then instead of fracking and this huge push for oil independence, you might encourage people to buy more responsible fuel consuming vehicles, instead of F150 and Silverado being the number one selling vehicle, ridiculous. Americans by nature are wasteful and this needs to change, not the independence from foreign oil, try saving what you have instead. Stop being politicians and start to be real people.

  8. 8. Tim [ January 22, 2015 @ 02:28PM ]

    Smith, you're spot on about not being good stewards of our resources. Build a pipe line across Amer for a foreign country REALLY Can't agree that middle class folks need another tax hike. A few Amer. have become wealthy beyond their dreams from this economy with record market gains and huge tax cuts from every President since Regan. The Middle Class has seen wages and pensions decline while their local, state and federal taxes inc. cost of food, housing & College sky rocket mean while they pile on debt to stay afloat. I guess it's easier to kick down instead of up. Most wealthy ppl realize that we aren't paying our share. It's mostly folks who aspire to become wealthy "someday" that make the class warfare argument. When Paul Ryan talks about reforming the tax code watch out... he means inc middle class taxes by eliminating mortgate int deductions, child care exp or reducing entitlements like SS or Med. Not evaluate estate taxes, inheritance taxes, capitol gains ect. Sadly their only priorities are Keystone cutting middle class entitlements, whatever welfare for poor is left to cut and more tax cuts for wealthy. Don't need term limits just fewer zombie voters. Keep your eyes on the ball


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