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Affluent Investor | July 29, 2017

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Highway Trust Fund: Not Just For Highways, Out Of Money So Not A Fund, And Can’t Be Trusted

Highway

My latest on Fox News Channel was on the Highway Trust Fund’s alleged bankruptcy. It’s not a bankruptcy because there are no legal liabilities, but beyond that, this is a planned crisis. Gas taxes are fairly stable and predictable revenue sources, so are tolls. If the money runs out early, it’s no accident, it’s a crisis designed to make the case for higher taxes.

This system is based on two fundamental principles: Federalism and the principle of benefits. Both come to us from the founders. President Eisenhower started this program because he learned as an officer that the US road system fell far short of the needs for logistical purposes in fighting a war, so he proposed that, since national defense was a federal — not state — function, a national trust would be created which would be entrusted to use gas taxes only for the purpose of an interstate highway system. It was to be based on gas taxes and tolls to conform with the principle of benefits as presented by Adam Smith in the Wealth of Nations published in 1776.

It no longer functions that way. It has become a congressional slush fund, in which almost half the money is ladled out through the corrupt system of congressional earmarks. The next time you drive on a highway which is named after a politician, think corruption.

Time to shut it down. The proceeds of the tax should be automatically remitted to state governments, or better yet, regional planning agencies. And regulatory barriers to privatization strategies should be repealed. We’re broke. We can no longer afford to be stupid.

If you’d like to watch my discussion with my friend Neil Cavuto on Fox News Chanel about this issue, just click here.

 

Article originally published on Forbes.com.

Jerry Bowyer is a Forbes contributor, contributing editor of AffluentInvestor.com, and Senior Fellow in Business Economics at The Center for Cultural Leadership.

Jerry has compiled an impressive record as a leading thinker in finance and economics. He worked as an auditor and a tax consultant with Arthur Anderson, as Vice President of the Beechwood Company which is the family office associated with Federated Investors, and has consulted in various privatization efforts for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. He founded the influential economic think tank, the Allegheny Institute, and has lectured extensively at universities, businesses and civic groups.

Jerry has been a member of three investment committees, among which is Benchmark Financial, Pittsburgh’s largest financial services firm. Jerry had been a regular commentator on Fox Business News and Fox News. He was formerly a CNBC Contributor, has guest-hosted “The Kudlow Report”, and has written for CNBC.com, National Review Online, and The Wall Street Journal, as well as many other publications. He is the author of The Bush Boom and more recently The Free Market Capitalist’s Survival Guide, published by HarperCollins. Jerry is the President of Bowyer Research.

Jerry consulted extensively with the Bush White House on matters pertaining to the recent economic crisis. He has been quoted in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes Magazine, The International Herald Tribune and various local newspapers. He has been a contributing editor of National Review Online, The New York Sun and Townhall Magazine. Jerry has hosted daily radio and TV programs and was one of the founding members of WQED’s On-Q Friday Roundtable. He has guest-hosted the Bill Bennett radio program as well as radio programs in Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.

Jerry is the former host of WorldView, a nationally syndicated Sunday-morning political talk show created on the model of Meet The Press. On WorldView, Jerry interviewed distinguished guests including the Vice President, Treasury Secretary, HUD Secretary, former Secretary of Sate Condoleezza Rice, former Presidential Advisor Carl Rove, former Attorney General Edwin Meese and publisher Steve Forbes.

Jerry has taught social ethics at Ottawa Theological Hall, public policy at Saint Vincent’s College, and guest lectured at Carnegie Mellon’s graduate Heinz School of Public Policy. In 1997 Jerry gave the commencement address at his alma mater, Robert Morris University. He was the youngest speaker in the history of the school, and the school received more requests for transcripts of Jerry’s speech than at any other time in its 120-year history.

Jerry lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, Susan, and the youngest five of their seven children.

 

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