Conflict brewing over big highway bill

Steve Henn Jun 18, 2009
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Conflict brewing over big highway bill

Steve Henn Jun 18, 2009
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Steve Chiotakis: Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner pays a visit to Capitol Hill today,
trying to woo members of Congress with the Obama administration’s financial regulation overhaul. Meanwhile, the Democratic chairman of the House Transportation committee will release plans today to remake the U.S. transportation system. But Jim Oberstar’s ambitions are slamming into economic reality. A fight is brewing between the congressman and the Obama administration over a big highway bill. From Washington, here’s Marketplace’s Steve Henn.


Steve Henn: The bad economy and high gas prices have meant Americans are driving less. That means the Feds are hauling in less revenue from the federal gas tax — so much less the highway trust fund will go broke this August.

Congressman Oberstar wants to use this crisis to force Congress to make tough choices about how to fund transportation — possibly hiking the gas tax or creating a new system that uses GPS technology to tax Americans based on how much they actually drive.

The Minnesota Democrat wants to spend billions more for public transit and $50 billion in the next six years on high-speed rail. But the Obama administration’s leery of a vote to hike taxes before next year’s mid-term elections. So it’s offering a plan to temporarily patch the highway funding pothole and push off any big decisions for at least 18 months.

In Washington, I’m Steve Henn for Marketplace.

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