President Trump reportedly approves of a 25-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax hike he hopes will fund his newly released infrastructure plan, and although tax-averse Republicans in Congress remain skittish, he’s found a new set of allies: truckers.
“We’re willing to pay more,” Chris Spear, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations (ATA), said. “This is our backyard. We drive on it every day, and we understand that it’s an investment, not only into the industry, but into the economy.”
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The federal fuel tax, which hasn’t increased since 1993, is currently set at 18.4 cents per gallon. Trump endorsed the idea of the tax increase at a Wednesday meeting with lawmakers, according to reports. On Monday, the White House unveiled Trump’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2019, which included a request for $200 billion in infrastructure spending from Congress. Over the next decade, the U.S. national debt will likely increase by $7 trillion, as the proposal does not seek to balance the budget, instead relying heavily on states to attract outside private investment to fund major projects. The ATA advocates gradually raising the tax 5 cents each year over the next four years so the economy can absorb the increase, Spear said. Over the next decade, that tax would generate $340 billion, he said. Trucking companies can write off the costs of gasoline as business expense, so companies would most likely not be directly affected by the change.
Spear said he hopes to see the finances from the potential tax go toward eliminating roadway congestion and providing greater safety. The average driver, he said, typically spends $1,500 per year just burning fuel while idling in traffic and repairing damages from things like potholes.
“That’s why this investment is so needed, and why we support paying more,” he said. “Real money into roads and bridges immediately. People will see the difference. And that $1,500 cost is going to start to come down dramatically.”