Blog: Clock Counts Down on HTF without Regard for America’s Needs

By Janet Kavinoky

With less than two weeks to go until the current MAP-21 extension runs out, the Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM) coalition is crying foul on the extremist forces whose legions are busily spreading misinformation and ultimately espousing policy that is bad for American consumers and businesses. These are the same forces who have railed against the federal highway and transit programs for years and their recent missives provide inaccurate, wrong-headed reasons why Congress doesn’t really need to address the federal fuel user fee this year.

Their claims boil down to: increasing it will whittle away at the savings Americans are experiencing because of nearly record-low gas prices, the program was intended to pay for highways and now much of it is used to pay for public transit, and the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) will still get and spend a tremendous amount of money this year even if Congress doesn’t take the necessary steps to sustain it.

These claims are very similar to – or even mirror – opinion pieces and articles the extremist forces are placing in newspapers around the country, meaning their spin machine is in high gear. The critical thing they don’t have on their side are the facts. With the deadline for Congressional action—May 31— quickly approaching, now is the time to get up to speed on those facts and share them broadly with your elected representatives so their decisions relating to the HTF can be based on the truth rather than on extremist fiction. Here are several topline facts and a detailed fact/fiction breakdown can be found here:

Fact: America can’t afford NOT to fix the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) or the transportation infrastructure it funds; the longer Congress takes to fix the problem, the more consumers and businesses pay to fix vehicles that experience damage because of deteriorating infrastructure.

Fact: Transit is a critical component to relieving and preventing the worsening of road congestion. Under President Ronald Reagan, Congress determined transit was an essential piece of the solution.

Fact: Inflationary and wage and materials increases over time mean the 18.4 cents per-gallon federal user fee is effectively worth about 11.5 cents today compared to when the federal user fee was last increased in 1993.

Fact: It is well established that the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) will become insolvent in the summer of 2015 if legislation re-authorizing MAP-21 is not passed and signed into law, meaning if Congress does not act, the federal government will slow or stop sending checks to state DOTs this summer. The economic consequences of not being able to pay contractors and employees will send shockwaves throughout our economy.

If you support the facts, share the attached fact/fiction document with your members of Congress, your local media and others in your community and take action in the following important ways:

It is irresponsible for Congress – just because of the threats of extremists to campaign against them – not to act to prevent the negative economic impact of inaction – on communities across America and the overall economy. Join the Alliance for Transportations Mobility (ATM) coalition as we seek to mute their fiction with the truth.

Janet Kavinoky is Vice President, Americans for Transportation Mobility Coalition & Executive Director, Transportation & Infrastructure at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.


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