Roads & Bridges

June 12, 2014

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today's commentary —

What's in the news? It's all over TV – the Veterans Administration scandal. Next, you will hear about the questionable swap of 5 terrorist prisoners for 1 army deserter. Obama Care problems are always in the news. However, have you heard anything about the Federal Highway Trust Fund projected to run out of money this summer? Probably not.

We need to pressure the Congress to deal with this serious problem. You know as I do that our roads and bridges are falling into disrepair. They need a lot of work.

I'm not suggesting that we should borrow a few billion dollars to fix the roads. We're already 17 trillion dollars in debt. Raise the gas tax. It hasn't been raised since 1993 – 21 years ago. A gas tax increase or vehicle miles tax is a user's fee. That's simple and fair. The drivers that are using the roads and bridges should pay for their upkeep. If they pay a little more, it will discourage over-use. The public at large should not be subsidizing our grain trucking or vacationing families.

Our infrastructure needs to be upgraded. It has been neglected for too long. There is some hope that we will get some funding to repair our locks and dams and sea ports. But, we don't have the appropriations yet. Our roads and bridges need a reliable long-term fix also.

However, at this time, with the Highway Trust Fund money clock ticking down, the politicians don't seem to appreciate the urgency. House Republicans are crafting a one-year plan to shore up the Fund. They want to end U.S. Postal Service Saturday delivery and use that money to fix the roads – for one year. That's not the way to fix our roads – even though we should discontinue Saturday postal delivery. The Postal Service is losing billions of dollars every year. President Obama's plan isn't much better. He wants to see corporate tax reform and get the money there for the Highway Fund.

Our elected officials are afraid to raise the gas tax. Here is the answer – don't call it a tax. Call it a user's fee. If you don't use the roads, you won't have to pay.

Until next week, I am John Block in Washington, D.C.