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Coalition Lobbies Against US Gas Tax Increase

by Mike Godfrey,, Washington

24 August 2007

A coalition of 56 groups, organized by the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union, has sent an open letter to Congress and the President contesting the case for the mooted increase in the federal gasoline excise tax.

"Proponents of a federal gas tax increase insist that few would even notice the change in their fuel bills," the letter stated. "In reality ... [t]his is a substantial burden on families trying to make ends meet."

The open letter was a response to policymakers who have exploited the bridge tragedy in Minnesota to press for more road funding and higher federal fuel taxes. House Transportation Committee Chair James Oberstar, for example, has discussed a temporary 5-cent-per-gallon increase in the gas tax.

As the 56 groups note, however, there are reasons other than hardship on taxpayers to oppose such schemes. "Temporary" fuel taxes have taken on lives of their own, such as the 5-cent-per-gallon increase backed by President George H.W. Bush 17 years ago. Nor is lack of money a problem. The 5-year Highway Bill enacted in 2005 represented a 42 percent spending boost over its predecessor. This legislation, combined with the pending Transportation Appropriations Bill, provides over $22 billion for special-interest "earmarks" -- nearly as much money as Oberstar's tax would raise.

The diverse list of signatories includes the National Grange, the Family Research Council, the Log Cabin Republicans, and the Islamic Free Market Institute. In addition to national-level citizen groups such as NTU, Americans for Prosperity, and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, grassroots organizations from over 20 states coast-to-coast endorsed the joint statement.

"Instead of resorting so readily to tax hikes, Congress and the Executive Branch should conduct a review to determine which transportation projects are really worth funding and which are unnecessary," the letter concluded. "Elected officials should not be feeding more revenues into the gears of an ever-faster spending machine, and we urge you to oppose any federal gas tax hike."

NTU is a non-partisan citizen group founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes and smaller government.

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