Foxx Rebuts Idea That Obama Is Leading From Behind on Infrastructure Taxes
Posted at 4:36 p.m. on July 1, 2014
“Go Team USA — Let’s build some bridges!” President Barack Obama told a crowd at the Key Bridge in Washington on Tuesday afternoon as he urged Congress to pass a bill to refill the Highway Trust Fund.
If Congress can’t figure out a way to raise the revenue for building infrastructure, it will be “like Congress threatening to lay off the entire population of Denver or Seattle or Boston” due to the construction jobs that will be at risk, Obama told the crowd.
The president explained that under his administration’s $302 billion, four-year Grow America Act proposal, “We pay for it in part by closing tax loopholes for companies that are shipping their profits overseas to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.”
Earlier Tuesday reporters pressed Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on why he and Obama haven’t called for an increase in the 18.4-cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline.
As CQ’s David Harrison reported Tuesday, despite wide support among Democrats and major players in transportation policy — including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — for an increase in the gasoline tax, the administration would rely on corporate tax changes to raise the money needed to keep the trust fund viable for four years.
“Why is this administration dragging its feet” on leading the charge for an increase in the gasoline tax, one reporter asked Foxx.
Another reporter told Foxx that some states have enacted increases in their own state gasoline taxes. So, he wondered, “why won’t the administration take a lead position on raising the gas tax” when there seems to be broad support for doing that?
“I think that’s unfair,” Foxx replied, saying that Obama’s approach — corporate tax increases to raise money for infrastructure — is a perfectly good idea.
“We’ve not taken a back seat on this and we have a pay-for that is an effective pay-for,” he contended.
He also suggested that the administration perhaps has a better read on the politics in this situation than some reporters do. “What our bill does is provide an answer that is actually politically feasible given the Congress we have right now.”
At the same time, Foxx repeatedly said that he would “keep an open mind. … We’re open to what Congress has to say…. we’re willing to listen to other ideas that emerge.”
One bipartisan measure offered by Sen. Chris Murphy, D- Conn., and Sen. Bob Corker, R- Tenn., two weeks ago is a 12 cent increase in the gasoline tax, phased in over two years, combined with indexing the tax to the Consumer Price Index.