At a time when many Americans are worried about the price of gasoline, Congress seems poised to increase it dramatically. We cannot conceive of an action by federal government more likely to deepen the current recession.
Because Americans are driving less, revenue for the Federal Highway Trust Fund has decreased. The fund may be broke by August, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., has warned.
Her report came during a hearing at which senators questioned Victor Mendez, President Barack Obama's nominee to head the Federal Highway Administration. Mendez told lawmakers that finding more money for the highway construction fund is "one of my highest priorities."
An increase in the gasoline and diesel fuel tax is unavoidable, Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, commented during the hearing. He said an increase in the tax, currently 18.4 cents per gallon, won't be popular but represents "the reality of the situation."
But tax increases being recommended in Congress are as high as 40 cents more per gallon. We suggest that members of Congress need to recognize another "reality of the situation" - that a 40-cent increase, or anything near it, would damage the economy badly.
Congress ought to be doing all it can to hold fuel prices down - not to drive them back over $3 a gallon.