Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with White House officials to talk about the path forward on Biden’s infrastructure plan now that Democrats have decided they won’t raise the gas tax to pay for it.
The meeting came as Democrat leadership look for a way to balance bipartisan negotiations with an increasing push by the far-left controlling the party to go it alone and pass a massive infrastructure package — Bernie Sanders is proposing $6 trillion — by avoiding a filibuster using reconciliation.
However, Schumer and Pelosi discussed a two-pronged approach to how they would spend trillions of dollars on Biden’s plan to pay off political allies of the Democrat Party — which is what his plan is in reality — by looking at both the go-it-alone approach and the bipartisan-talks approach.
One of the sticking points likely to determine which road they take is finding a way to lock down how to pay for the infrastructure due to growing pushback from Democrats against raising the gas tax to pay for it (via The Hill):
Democrats have turned solidly against the gas tax as lawmakers look for ways to pay for a new infrastructure measure to remake the nation’s roads and bridges.
The tax has long been seen as a regressive measure that hits the poor and middle class, as well as people in rural parts of the country, disproportionately.
But it is also something that Democratic presidents have embraced over the years, from former President Carter, who in 1977 supported raising the tax by 5 cents a year for 10 years, to former President Clinton, who with Vice President Al Gore backed the last hike in 1993.
But in today’s debate over infrastructure and taxes, there is little if any support for a gas tax among progressives — especially amid reports of a tax policy that lets off the rich, and income inequality that puts the squeeze on the poor.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said the thinking around the issue has evolved within the party. “Over time, as we have become more and more aware of the different ways in which tax structures are regressive or progressive … it has crystallized for progressives … that this is not the way to go,” she said.
But not raising the gas tax to pay for infrastructure doesn’t mean you and I won’t be on the hook for Biden’s kickback plan.
For example, in Colorado — where the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights requires a vote of the people to raise taxes — Gov. Jared Polis (D) just signed a $3.8 billion infrastructure finance plan that raises “fees” instead of taxes on things like road use, electric vehicle registrations, retail deliveries and ride-shares.
Of course, a tax by any other name is still a tax, but calling them fees allows the state to ignore the law.
Wanting to avoid the word “tax” means Democrats in Washington are taking a similar approach to fleece you and me to pay the bill.
Biden’s first step in this direction is to play the class warfare game by calling on corporations and the rich to pay their “fair share” in taxes. Democrats want to dramatically increase corporate tax rates, and they’ve been warming up to Elizabeth Warren’s Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act — a bill that creates a new wealth tax designed to add “huge amounts of revenue” to the government’s coffers on the backs of the “ultra-millionaires.” A recent survey showed that Warren’s plan enjoys to support of a majority of Republicans as well.
Rhetorically speaking, raising taxes on corporations doesn’t cost the low and middle class anything. But the economic reality is corporations don’t pay taxes, consumers do when they buy their products. If corporate tax rates go up, consumer prices will follow.
Another part of Biden’s strategy to raise the money to pay for infrastructure without raising the gas tax is to give the IRS new tyrannical power to hassle ALL taxpayers, not just the rich.
Democrats are also looking at the path taken by Colorado to pay for infrastructure by using “fees” instead of taxes — an idea that enjoys Republican support because they introduced the idea in recent “bipartisan” meetings on a “smaller” infrastructure plan.
Republicans proposed creating a new fee on electric vehicles, and they suggested imposing a fee based on the miles driven by vehicles; such as a fee focused on commercial trucking.
I’m not a economist, but I’m pretty sure low and middle class Americans buy cars and trucks, which means they will be paying the fees on electric vehicles.
I’m also sure that commercial trucks haul goods to market that are purchased by low and middle class Americans. Since the cost of trucking goes up as a result of these new fees, commercial trucking will pass the increase on to the retailers they work for, who will then pass it on to the consumer.
By the way, if you’re wondering how tracking the miles driven by personal vehicles and commercial trucks might be accomplished, Washington has been creating ways to track Americans in their cars in real time for many years.
An early attempt to reach this goal made the news in January 2015 when Obama and the GOP-controlled Congress empowered the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to create a national database of license plates and driving habits of Americans. Though originally created to combat drug trafficking, the program was being expanded to track other “criminals” and was even made available to state-level law enforcement agencies.
This expansion continued in January 2018 when Trump and the GOP gave Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency-wide access to a nationwide license plate recognition database in the name of immigration control.
In November 2019, a bill was introduced in the House that facilitated the creation of a real-time national driver surveillance program that made it possible for law enforcement to know anything and everything about a driver at the click of a button.
Known as the “Safe Drivers Act” (SDA), the bill’s “primary purpose” is to make everything a motorist has done available to law enforcement NATIONWIDE, and it will accomplish this feat by tracking driver’s licenses in addition to license plates.
I realize that these plans were created for specific “safety” issues, but so was the PATRIOT Act before Biden decided to use the part dealing with banking to expand the power of the IRS as I mentioned above.
How hard would it be to find a similar loophole in license plate data base laws to let Big Brother track the miles we drive in order to make sure everyone pays their “fair share?”
Democrats are saying they won’t raise the gas tax to pay for infrastructure, but that doesn’t mean it won’t cost you.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.