Elizabeth Warren Isn't A Fan Of Raising The Gas Tax To Pay For Infrastructure Needs

It's a stance shared by many Republicans and anti-tax conservatives.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wants to raise all kinds of taxes to pay for a slate of progressive policy proposals, including universal health care, universal child care, a plan to provide affordable housing and an initiative that would give students loan relief.

But one tax the 2020 Democratic presidential contender isn’t so hot on raising is the federal gas tax, which hasn’t been lifted since 1993 from 18.4 cents per gallon.

“I’m open to the conversation, but what worries me is it falls hardest on working people. When I talk about raising taxes, what I really want to see is I want to see an ultra-millionaire’s tax,” Warren said Monday at a CNN town hall when asked whether she supported raising the gax tax to pay for infrastructure needs.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

Raising the gas tax to pay for investments to the country’s crumbling roads, bridges and waterways is an idea that has bipartisan support in Washington. That proposal is backed by both the Chamber of Commerce, which recommends hiking the tax by 25 cents over five years, and the labor organization AFL-CIO. The increase would generate an additional $375 billion over the next 10 years, according to the Chamber. 

President Donald Trump also supports the move, as well as many Democrats in Congress, who note that the burden of paying for new infrastructure has increasingly fallen on states and localities.

“The saying, ‘If you want to dance, you have to pay the fiddler,’ could never have been more true,” Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) said at a recent House Ways and Means Committee hearing on how to finance an infrastructure overhaul.

But anti-tax conservatives oppose raising the gas tax, arguing that it’s not needed and that it would hurt low-income families ― which is interestingly the same concern Warren expressed on Monday. The senator says she would rather roll back the GOP’s tax cuts on corporations and levy a 2 percent tax on assets over $50 million and a 3 percent tax on assets over $1 billion.

“I want to see taxes on the top. And then let’s use that to help subsidize what it is that we really want to see: Cleaner vehicles. That’s the direction I’d much rather see us go,” Warren said Monday at the CNN town hall.

“I want to see taxes on the top. And then let’s use that to help subsidize. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

Raising the gax tax could provide billions in new revenue for infrastructure and help boost the Highway Trust Fund, which is currently projected to run out of cash in 2021. The fund finances most federal government spending on highways and mass transit and receives money primarily from transportation-related excise taxes.

Trump pledged during the 2016 presidential campaign a massive investment to overhaul the nation’s infrastructure not seen since the days of Dwight Eisenhower, but there has been little action in Congress since. House Democrats say they’re hoping to vote on a bill to fix the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges this year.

During her town hall on Monday, Warren said that the U.S. needs to “step up our investment in infrastructure.” She added that the ambitious Green New Deal proposals created to address climate change seek to do that as well.

“That’s how we build a future. And I’ll add one little piece to it and say when you take a look at the Green New Deal, understand this is about building the infrastructure for the 21st century, for a sustainable world,” she said.