Things to Do

August 7, 2015

August 7, 2015

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—

Congress is out of town and won’t be back until after Labor Day. In some respects, that’s good. They won’t be passing any bad bills. However, it’s really not so good. The Country of Origin Labeling law is still hanging over our heads. Canada and Mexico are ready to impose heavy tariffs on our exports to them. That will hurt our ag industry. They are two of our biggest export markets.

Another issue – I am happy that the Congress passed Trade Promotion Authority before they left town. That doesn’t mean that we have a trade agreement. It’s like hitting a double. It only gives the Administration the authority to negotiate an agreement. We are negotiating with 11 Pacific Rim countries, and there are still some serious road blocks. Dairy is just one of them.

If the trade agreement is accepted by all the countries, we move from second base to third base. Still not home. The negotiated agreement is sent to the Congress by President Obama for Congressional approval. Congressional approval will bring it home to victory. There are no guarantees, but I am still hopeful.

One additional and very important job that the Congress can’t seem to get done is funding our highway system. The House and Senate passed two very different bills. I don’t like either one of them. The House only provided highway funding for three months. The Senate bill funds for three years and longer if they can find the money.

Our lawmakers don’t have the courage to fund a long-term bill that makes the users pay. The truck drivers and car drivers should pay to fix the roads they drive on. Our highways and bridges are in serious disrepair. The primary source of revenue for the Highway Trust Fund has always been a gas tax. It was set at 18.4 cents per gallon in 1993 – more than 20 years ago – and never increased. Fixing roads costs a lot more today than it did then.

Don’t call it a tax. Call it what it is – a “user’s fee.” We need a long-term solution to ensure that our infrastructure can efficiently serve our country.

With gasoline at $2 per gallon, down from $4, don’t you think we could afford a few pennies to fix our roads?

Congress will be back in September. We can still hope.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on- line to Have a great weekend.

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