Apparently, a narrow election loss is all you need to convince GOP Leadership that taxes are too low. President Obama won reelection by a smaller margin than his first victory, yet it was enough to upend a foundational principle of the modern Republican party. Today, incoming House Transportation Chair Rep. BillShuster said the increasing the gas tax is something “we need to look at.”
“You’ve got to look at all your options out there. Is it something difficult? Sure. But I think it’s one of those things we need to look at while running through these negotiations,” Shuster said during a pen and pad with reporters after officially winning the chairmanship.
Rep. Shuster was recently elevated by GOP Leadership to head the Transportation Committee. The committee has always been a challenge for conservatives. It writes the massive multi-year Highway Bill which spends tens of billions a year on the shiny public works and infrastructure projects so loved by politicians. Members of the committee have extraordinary leeway to steer how much of the money is spent. Even conservatives often have a hard time resisting the temptation of so much spending.
And Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) is no conservative. Heritage action gave him a dismal score of 55. Club for Growth was a slightly lower 54. In a way, he practically grew up on the committee, as his dad, Bud, dominated the panel throughout his congressional tenure. The elder Shuster even managed to get a highway named after himself.
Public transportation activists have long pushed to increase the gas tax, arguing that because cars are more fuel efficient, the tax doesn’t bring in as much revenue as they think it should. Under outgoing Chair Rep. John Mica (R-FL), those pleas went nowhere. Now, however, they’ve found a GOP Chair who looks to agree with them.