NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Overweight Transportation Bills

February 6, 2004

Why is the federal government spending half a trillion dollars more than it takes in? It is easy to understand when you look at the recent history of federal road and transit legislation, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD).

  • Last spring, the administration sent Congress a surface transportation package spending $247 billion over six years.
  • This amount was raised to $256 billion in President Bush's 2005 budget for a 21 percent increase over the expiring six-year bill passed in 1998.
  • The House version would cost $375 billion and require an 8-cent hike in the gas tax; the Senate version has a price tag of $318 billion, with no outright tax increase but would tap general funds in addition to gas taxes and thus add to the deficit.
  • The Senate bill would add $62 billion over six years to Bush's request while the House version would add $119 billion and raise taxes.

There is no emergency that requires Congress to add so much to an already adequate plan. Bush has a perfect case for exercising his veto on any highway bill that exceeds his original request, says IBD.

Bush needs to change congressional minds on this matter, or he can forget about even getting close to his budget goals. If he can't figure out a way to hold the line on highways, he'll find it hard to restrain Congress on a host of other spending items he proposes to cut or eliminate in the 2005 budget, says IBD.

Source: Editorial, "It's Veto Time," Investor's Business Daily, February 6, 2004.


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