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IT’S A SAD COMMENTARY on our nation when “politics” gets in the way of accomplishing what most agree are reasonable solutions. It is a disservice to our highway infrastructure development that the money paid into the highway trust fund is considered a “tax” instead of a “user fee”. Everyone agrees that our nation’s highways are critical to our competitiveness and that improving our infrastructure also puts American’s to work. Yet, there is a lack of political will to utilize the most efficient funding mechanism for highways because it has been painted as a tax increase. Fortunately, out of necessity, states are starting to raise fees collected with gasoline and diesel usage. We need to continue to educate our legislators and our fellow citizens that funding for better highways must be a top priority and there is no more efficient mechanism for funding than the gas and diesel user fees. It is exciting that T&I Chairman Shuster has appointed an

Intermodal Task Force headed by Tennessee Congressman Jimmy Duncan. Intermodal plays an important role in the movement of America’s goods and we need someone to bring the modes together and look at how the hand-offs between modes can be done more effectively and efficiently. Improving the safety of our highways is something everyone can

agree on and support. It is great to see that many of the ATA’s safety initiatives were included in Map 21. Our company has utilized EOBRs for several years with great results. Our drivers actually embraced it once they became familiar with it. Due to rounding time by the minute, we have seen 2-3 additional hours per week of available time to our drivers. Additionally our CSA Fatigued Driver scores have consistently been in the single digit or low teens and we attribute this to EOBRs. We also welcome the drug and alcohol clearinghouse so we can insure we don’t inadvertently hire a driver with a previous positive test. The same is true for speed limiters. We have used them for many years on our trucks and currently have our speed limited to 65 MPH. Not only does the reduced speed help avoid accidents but it also saves on fuel costs. Reducing speed has a double benefit. —Dave Manning, President,

Tennessee Commercial Warehouse

personal call. But even some House members seem

to be bailing on Norquist. Rep. Peter King (R- N.Y.) said he no longer supports Norquist’s pledge either. He said times – and the world – have changed. “If I were in Congress in 1941, I would

have signed a declaration of war against Japan,” King said recently. “I’m not going to attack Japan today. The world has changed, and the economic situation is different.” King saidWashington politicians need

to be more flexible and creative in helping balance the budget, sayingWashington “should not be taking ironclad positions” on issues. That would appear to open the door

for much financial maneuvering. The fuel tax could be raised, or indexed to inflation. It could be done as a separate financial infrastructure spending measure. Or, more likely, it could be revisited when the current two-year highway bill expires in 2014. Whatever the timetable, knowledge-

able and influential trucking lobbyists in Washington say the fuel tax will rise—and perhaps soon. “I believe it is not a question of ‘if’, but

‘when’ they are going to have an increase in the federal fuel tax,” Bill Graves, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associa- tions (ATA), said in an exclusive interview in late 2012. Graves reiterated those comments to

theWall Street Journal recently. He said transportation insiders have for years recognized the need to raise the fuel tax, but have been hampered by political reali- ties. “No one [in Congress] wants to publicly acknowledge it, no one wants to publicly go there. But privately, they all get it.” The framework already is there. The

some hardline Republicans in Congress are ready to break from the no tax “pledge” Grover Norquist, the head of Americans for Tax Reform, has held politicians to over the past two decades. In the past, Norquist has pledged to defeat any member of Congress calling for tax increases—including user-fee type taxes such as the fuel tax. Norquist claims more than 1,100

signers of the pledge nationally— includ- ing 238 House members and 41 Senators. But recently, cracks began to show. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) recently called it a “so-called pledge,” and indicated that even though he signed it decades ago, it might be


as outdated as a 1958 Edsel. There are other no-taxes-ever defectors

too. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) recently told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that “for the good of the country” tax increases ought to be on the table. “I will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country,” Graham said. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) also

seemed willing to buck the pledge. He recently told a Macon, Ga., television sta- tion: “I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge.” Soon after his remarks, reports circulated that his comments drew the ire of Norquist and a


2010 bipartisan Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction commission proposed raising the fuel tax in increments as part of both a deficit reduction plan and infrastructure spending mechanism. “We just have to get over the word ‘tax’

and treat it just as if it were another user fee,” said Lane Kidd, president of the Arkan- sas Trucking Association. “Tax is not a dirty word any longer.” Trucking interests long have favored

raising the fuel tax over nearly any other revenue raising scheme. The Arkansas Trucking Association was an early oppo- nent to any expansion of toll roads. That’s because the overhead costs of collecting

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