Obama Administration Moves Toward Tolls On Interstate Highways

220px-Atlanta_75.85I have previously written about the proliferation of toll roads in the United States as governments shift the cost of highways to citizens while spending wildly on foreign wars and losing billions of waste. Congress allows billions to literally disappear in places like Iraq and Afghanistan or give billions in aid to affluent countries like Israel, but it insists that American citizens already struggling financially should be forced to pay to use their federal roads. The change is a fundamental shift in our approach to highways which were viewed as the basic service supplied to taxpayers. However, the Administration has quickly open the door in the new transportation bill to end the long tradition of free federal highways. Of course, do not take too much cash on the highways, because it can be seized by police in the growing number of pretext stops called “policing for profits.”

This move follows states like New Jersey closing bathrooms and ending other basic programs. It seems that there are fewer and fewer benefits that citizens can expect for their taxes. They must pay the government and then pay again to use basic government services. This is an effective tax disguised as a toll that will hit low income people the hardest and add a new barrier to their securing or maintaining jobs. I could not care less about the cost but there are many, many families where this seemingly small added toll will be a hardship. It is cumulative for such families. At every turn, they are being asked to pony up for government services. While the Administration and Congress talks a good game about fighting for the shrinking middle class, it routinely shifts more and more costs over to such families while using tax dollars to literally deliver bags of money to such corrupt officials as Hamid Karzai.

The reason for tapping drivers is ironically the success of fuel efficiency standards. The Highway Trust Fund contains a 18.4-cent federal gas tax, but the advances in cars has reduced such revenues so the Congress has to find a new way to tap drivers without using the word “tax”.

The highway trust fund will face a $63 billion shortfall over the next four years. That is a fraction of the money that we burned in Iraq and Afghanistan and continue to throw abroad.

Of course, citizens could move to secede to Iraq and ask for their highways to be built for free on no-bid contracts.

On another example of how such fees can impact families, we recently received a return payment on our Virginia taxes. Rather than send a check as in the past, Virginia now sends you “Way2Go” debit cards from Mastercard. However, if you try to get the money transferred to your bank or make inquiries you face a series of potential charges. For example, if you call five times, they charge you. (We try to reach the contractor repeatedly and we cut off or misdirected — triggering the penalty). If you lose the cards (which is easy because they look like free credit cards), you are hit with multiple charges. You can only inquire a couple times about your balance or . . . you guessed it . . . you are charged. It appears a system designed to get citizens to pay charges to a contractor, a prospect far more likely for the elderly. The charges seem wired into the system — added charges that are treated not as a tax but administrative costs imposed on taxpayers. Again, despite the time and hassle of getting the money transferred, we were not concerned about the charges. However, we immediately thought of the many elderly taxpayers who will either not use the cards, throw them away in ignorance, or fall into the trap of these hidden charges: all this to get their money that was over-paid to their government. Here is a list of the charges, but you will have to use the Virginia Department of Taxation website.

Source: Washington Post

127 thoughts on “Obama Administration Moves Toward Tolls On Interstate Highways”

  1. Karen,

    To compare the US rate of 35% to UK and France is a bit exaggerated.

    And there also is not comparison to their social services – education, healthcare.

    And the UK presently has a conservative government.

    1. The Conservative govt of the UK cannot be compared to the conservatives of the US. Their conservatives are Democrats.

  2. In some ways it may be a very good idea to not let the feds spend more than they take in….

    No more wars!

    Iraq never would have happened.

    No bushels of money to Karzai. No pallets of money to whoever was Bush’s administrator over there. The one who wore the boots.

    We might have had to stay out of WWII, though.

    And with all the Boomers and everything – bye, bye Medicare.

    But what the hell! No debt! Just like our household budget.

    Ohhh, except for that one thing we do. It’s called buying a house…

  3. Paul, would that every federal, state, and local government did not spend more than it takes in.

  4. We did not get any free oil from Iraq. We buy it just like anyone else. (How do these myths get started?)

    Halliburton just won several bids on drilling in 2011 in an open auction.

    It would be nice if we could recoup our financial losses when we go to war, but that is not how we operate.

    Instead we spend billions of dollars “nation building”, so Al Qaeda ends up with beautiful new roads after we leave.

    In retrospect, I wish we had fought both wars differently.

    Right now, if you buy absolutely any product, including groceries, oil got it to you at some point in the product’s manufacture and transport.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/15/business/energy-environment/15iht-srerussia15.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

  5. What happened to the US to make people think that balancing a budget and living within our means is extreme or diseased?

    Doesn’t everyone have at least on in their family who thinks a savings account is a waste of time, and he can’t run out of money if he has more checks? This has now become a very common view.

    How do you ask a public to reign in excess, and ensure there is a benefit for every dollar earned, when the other side is throwing out “free stuff” and IOUs?

  6. Karen, Balanced Budget Amendment scares the shit out of politicians. Our state has one and it makes a huge difference.

    1. Arizona is required to balance its budget. Now the last recession caused a lot of problems but they still cannot spend more than they take in.

  7. The trouble with the “tax and spend” mentality, is that people fail to project this trend into the future. Where will we end up if we keep taxing and spending, keep growing the debt? Eventually, as Greece found out, we’ll loose our credit ratings, or collapse.

    It’s like Aesop’s the ants and the grasshopper. Our representatives are all having a grand time spending money like it’s water, blithely ignoring calls that the per person debt is now considerably higher than Greece’s when they collapsed.

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/us-person-debt-now-35-percent-higher-greece_660409.html

  8. Who would you rather have running your personal finances – a fiscal conservative careful with your money, or the carefree person who spends money on everything, thinks a balanced budget is a myth, and has no concern whatsoever in producing a debt that it will take generations to repay, with no slowing in spending in sight yet?

    That is a tough one! Maybe the “diseased” fiscal conservative might not selfishly spend your great-grandkids’ money!

  9. “Bush caused all of our deficit” is a persistent myth that journalists (and others) keep alive by obediently reposting. Please read this Wall Street Journal article which breaks down the CBO projected budget surplus, and calculates all of the factors that contributed to our debt. Bush contributed 14%, as of 2010.

    At some point, Obama (and all his successors) might just have to come to terms that we are in debt because they keep spending money like it grows on trees. He’s been in the WH for over 5 years now, but our debt and the deficit keep growing by leaps and bounds.

    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052748704738404575347302831199046

  10. Karen, That’s what the Beatle’s song “The Tax Man” was about. France is doing it now. The drove out Johnny Depp, John Malcovich, and many other wealthy people.

  11. KarenS, The govt. is an obese, ruthless, powerful overlord. It is way past putting it on a diet, it needs gastric bypass.

  12. Rcampbell:

    “But as a result of the insipid infection in our culture called conservatism” – is only one political party “allowed?” Is the belief that the government taxes us too high and wastes too much money “a disease?” Is only one opinion allowed now on the best way to run a government?

    Why do people think the answer to every single problem in the world to raise taxes? Great Britain thought that way, and that’s how a 95% tax rate chased The Beatles right out of England. And that’s how France toyed with a similar tax rate.

    How about if the government kept in mind that it is spending other people’s hard earned tax money? Because sometimes it seems like they’re throwing confetti, the way our government wastes money.

  13. So they use tax dollars to build the roads, and then charge people to drive on them.

    Here in CA, toll roads are mostly empty. Instead of being used to cut down on the grinding gridlock, they are just wasted space. People here in CA neither want to pay to use a road they paid to build, nor stop at the toll station.

    1. Karen – I like the CA toll roads, you can really zip along on them. I am willing to pay for them. Traffic in CA is horrible.

  14. SL the usa has given israel 4 billion dollars a year every year without fail since the holocaust.. also lets not leave out the well known fact of the rabbi pentagon worker who disappeared with 23 billion dollars on 9/11 notice the only part of the pentagon to be hit on 9/11 was the accounting office

  15. I think the debit cards are only an issue because we are still in a transition period into the electronic age. Transitions are always painful.

    I don’t have a problem with the debit cards in general. It does cost a lot of money to print and mail checks. However, the the fees are simply usurious. It costs the bank/state nothing for a holder to check a balance at an ATM. The fees hit people who don’t understand how to use the card, don’t have access to the internet and possibly don’t have a bank account. So it’s really the implementation rather than the cards I object to. The card does need to arrive in an envelope that looks like official state business rather than junk mail.

    I’ve been checking the box to get debit cards rather than checks for manufacturer rebates for years now. The debit cards arrive faster and I generally use them up on one trip to the grocery. In the past, I ended up with a drawer full of $5, $10, etc. rebate checks that were expired because I never got around to going to the bank or ATM.

  16. What happened to the bazillions that was spent on those “shovel ready projects” Mr. President? Sheriff Joe biden was going to keep an eye on things to make sure the taxpayers got our moneys worth if my memory serves. Double dipping by corrupt pols….again. This administration sucks…although I am not surprised or disapointed any more.
    Must be getting used to it…ugh.

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