President Barack Obama said he would “potentially” support an increase in the gas tax, but indicated that Congress should consider a less political and more sustainable revenue source for funding highway infrastructure.
Responding to a question from FedEx CEO Fred Smith at a Business Roundtable asking why the President and Congress couldn’t pass legislation to raise the 18.4 cents per-gallon gas tax, President Obama said raising the gas tax is “politically frightening” to Congress.
"If I were running Congress … I’d potentially take you up on that offer or suggestion," Obama said, according to a transcript. "I think I would have — probably already would have done it."
The President said the fact that the gas tax hasn’t been raised in 20 years served as evidence that votes on the gas tax are “really tough.”
“The question is going to be, ‘Is there a formula long-term for us to get a dedicated revenue source for funding the infrastructure that we need that is not so politically frightening to members or Congress that it’s reliable?’” the President said. “It’s probably a good time for us to redesign and think through what is a sustainable way for us on a regular basis to make the investments we need.”
The Obama Administration earlier this year put forth a transportation plan that would boost revenues for the dwindling Highway Trust Fund through corporate tax reform in conjunction with expanded tolling of existing interstates and private infrastructure financing.
Republican Rep. Tom Petri, who is preparing to retire from Congress, plans to support a bill to increase the federal gas tax by 15 cents to 33.3 cents per gallon by 2016, according to published reports.
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