The voices of Tax Policy Center's researchers and staff
A short road too often traveled. Federal highway funding is due to expire in about two weeks, and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says a temporary extension—the 33rd in six years—would “prolong a dangerous status quo of funding infrastructure at a level that has left our transportation system gasping for air.” But Congress is almost certain to do it anyway.
Maybe a gas tax increase is no political dead end. According to an analysis by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, 95 percent of Republican state lawmakers and 88 percent of Democrats who voted for gas tax increases in 2013 and 2014 were re-elected. Thus, ARTBA concludes that members of Congress have nothing to fear should they vote to give the Federal Highway Trust Fund a boost by raising the federal gasoline tax. Lawmakers don’t seem to be buying the story.
Are “tax cuts” no longer a GOP favorite? TPC’s Howard Gleckman considers the GOP presidential field: When it comes to tax cuts, crickets are chirping. Ben Carson, Governor Chris Christie, senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and others might be talking about tax reform and even rate cuts, but they are not promoting overall tax cuts. And Jeb Bush hasn’t even ruled out tax increases. Are Ronald Reagan-style tax cuts going the way of American Idol?
Would Michigan voters give up their flat rate income tax? One state Democratic lawmaker thinks the time is right given last week’s defeat of Proposition 1, a ballot measure that would have raised Michigan’s sales tax. But the state constitution forbids a graduated income tax and Michigan income is taxed at a flat 4.25 percent. Representative Jim Townsend would establish a progressive rate system, starting at 3 percent and topping out at 10 percent. But the idea is a non-starter in the GOP-led legislature.
A higher alcohol tax might stop binge drinking, says the OECD. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says member states would have to boost such a tax by 10 percent to curb excessive consumption, which the OECD says “reduces economic output in most developed countries and contributes to early death and disability.” The group finds that alcohol consumption in the US is lower than the OECD average, but the 20 percent of the US population who drinks the most accounts for more than 70 percent of total US consumption.
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