You wouldn't raid your 401(k) to put a temporary patch on a hole in your driveway. But that's essentially the approach the House took Tuesday when, in a telling display of absurdity, it decided to fund highway construction by letting employers endanger their workers' retirement.
The stopgap bill it passed would allow companies to underfund their pension plans. Because those contributions are tax deductible, companies would pay more in taxes -- but not nearly as much as they'd save in pension contributions. And that additional revenue would be used to keep the
That's right. To pay for roads, the House wants to undermine the long-term viability of private pension plans, mainly because majority Republicans are dogmatically afraid of raising taxes, at any time, for any purpose.
When pension plans go belly up, lives will be ruined, and the government will be stuck with part of the bill. But the legislators engineering this fiasco will be long gone.
One reason the
Highways and transit are core functions of government that the American people recognize as vital to their daily lives. They also spur economic growth. They shouldn't be funded with temporary gimmicks that prevent any kind of long-range transportation planning, much less gimmicks that harm pensioners.
What America needs is to repair old infrastructure and add to it so that the nation's booming metropolitan areas are not choked by vehicular gridlock. The obvious near-term solution is to raise the gasoline tax back to where it was in 1993 dollars and index it for inflation.
States and local officials have done the equivalent without much public complaint. They know that their constituents, while not eager to pay taxes, recognize the need.
Unlike many issues on