Originally posted at The Washington Times.

Never underestimate the power of the big business lobby and the foolishness of establishment Republicans to follow it. In a spectacular example of political shortsightedness and reckless policymaking a few Republicans are mimicking Democrats by discussing the possibility of raising the federal tax on gasoline.

Republican Senators Bob Corker (TN), John Thune (SD) and Orrin Hatch (UT) are openly discussing the possibility of supporting the tax increase as a way to find funds for highway infrastructure projects. Even the usually reliable conservative Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) is considering the tax plan.

Echoing House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in calling for a gasoline tax increase from its current level of 18.4 cents is certainly not the way to brand the new Republican-led Congress.

At the heart of the new tax is the need to find a funding mechanism to pay for the Highway Trust Fund that is running out of money largely due to the loss of gas tax revenue from Americans driving more fuel efficient cars.

Senators Corker and Chris Murphy (D-CT) have introduced legislation that would raise the federal gasoline tax by 12 cents over two years and index the tax to inflation to generate future revenue.

The big business lobby driven by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is steering the call for the added gasoline tax. The trade group, which is frequently mischaracterized as politically conservative, is a huge fan of laundering taxpayer money through the government to its big business members.

Speaking at the annual State of American Business address on January 14, Chamber president Tom Donahue justified the tax saying the significant drop in gasoline prices makes, “… it reasonable to consider investing a dime or two of those savings back into our roads, bridges and highways to put Americans to work, clean the air, grow our economy and save thousands of lives?”

The Chamber spent a significant amount of money during the last election cycle to make sure that Tea Party backed candidates that reject corporatism were defeated. Now the Chamber is looking to cash in on its investment.

Republicans must recognize the Chamber is focused on pleasing its members and not the future of the GOP.

The mere suggestion of a tax increase with Republican fingerprints on it is a mammoth blunder of policy and politics. Adding a gasoline tax as a product from the Republican Congress would damage the party’s brand just when the public is viewing it more positively.

The timing could not be worse.

Read the rest at The Washington Times

 

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