For Immediate Release Contact: Jim Campi
July 24, 1997 (202) 467-5300

(Washington, D.C.) – Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) President Thomas A. Schatz today expressed his outrage at efforts in Congress to use funds from fuel taxes for purposes other than deficit reduction.  Amendments to the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 would shift a certain portion of existing fuel taxes, previously earmarked for deficit reduction, into trust funds for use in highway and other transportation construction projects. 

Two Senate proposals would take a total of 3.85 cents of the 4.3 cents per gallon gasoline tax and dump it into the Highway Trust Fund and a newly created Intercity Passenger Rail Fund.  Another measure in the House version of the bill would transfer the 4.3 cents per gallon aviation fuel tax to the Airport and Airway Trust Fund. 

“These fuel taxes were controversial increases proposed as part of the 1993 budget deal and only passed because they were specifically earmarked for deficit reduction,” Schatz said.  “We still have a budget deficit, which means these funds should still go toward its reduction.  These changes in use of the two trust funds are not part of the budget agreement and must be rejected.  If some members of Congress think we don’t need this money for deficit reduction, then it should be returned to the taxpayers, and not earmarked for pork-laden wasteful highway programs or to extend the life of a virtually bankrupt national railroad.”

If these amendments survive during final passage of the bill, they could leave a $40 billion hole in the deficit over five years and require deeper discretionary spending cuts in order to balance the budget.  Defense would have to be cut by $18.8 billion over five years, education by $3.3 billion and health research by $1.7 billion.

“If this money ends up in the various transportation trust funds, it is likely to be wasted,” Schatz said.  “Transportation money is too irresistible to pork-barreling members of Congress who view road-building as the easiest way to buy votes from their constituents.  Since 1991, Transportation pork has totaled nearly $5 billion.  That fact alone should convince our lawmakers to turn these amendments into road kill.”

CCAGW is a 600,000-member lobbying organization dedicated to enacting legislation to eliminate waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in the federal government.  For more information or to arrange an interview please call Jim Campi at (202) 467-5300.


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