Congress Raiding TSA Airport Fees to Fund Bloated, Over Budget Highway Construction

by Warner Todd Huston | July 16, 2015 3:28 pm

The federal highway fund is overspent by $13 billion this year and that deficit spending is growing every year. But instead of fixing the problem, Congress is just raiding other funds to float the bloated spending in the highway fund. Now they are even stealing billions from the TSA’s airport fund to do it.

The House of Representatives is considering a “patch”[1] to the shortfall of funding for the Highway Trust Fund–which apparently holds no trust at all!

The measure is the latest installment—the 34th since 2008, in fact—in a series of short-term measures used to address the Highway Trust Fund’s chronic overspending. The trust fund, fueled primarily by taxes on gas and diesel, shells out about $50 billion annually for federal highway and transit projects. This year, the trust fund will spend $13 billion more than it receives in revenues. That deficit is expected to grow to $22 billion in 10 years, resulting in a $168 billion cumulative shortfall by 2025.

The House’s current plan—using an $8 billion patch to open up the door for a repatriation proposal—is fiscally irresponsible and bad transportation policy. It would keep in place a broken system while violating the “user pays” principle, which calls for the users of transportation to pay for the costs—the foundation of highway funding since 1956—by using unrelated revenues to fund transportation projects.

And these funding measures would ostensibly do nothing to reform the misguided spending policies that annually eclipse revenues and divert gas tax dollars to projects wholly unrelated to highways.

Essentially, the House is proposing one big tax-and-spend plan.

The proposal relies on a series of gimmicky offsets to pay for the $8.1 billion in new spending. It makes no meaningful spending reforms or cuts, relying wholesale on new revenues raised through tax increases or fee shifts.

Worst of all, the proposal uses a gimmick that would siphon over $3 billion in future Transportation Security Administration fees imposed on airline passengers to fund new spending on surface transportation.

No reforms are being considered, of course. Just shoveling more money into the bottomless pit of spending and now they are stealing future funds from the TSA that haven’t even been collected yet!

Like everything in Washington, this is just a criminal waste of tax dollars.

  1. considering a “patch”:

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