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Raise the Federal Gas Tax to Fund Infrastructure

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Live Transcript
  • Should States or Federal Government Pay for Infrastructure?

    Clip: Debaters Adrian Moore, Stephen Moore, Shailen Bhatt, and Alison Black agree more funding should go to infrastructure projects, but differ on the proper source of funds.

  • Gas Tax or Tolls to Pay for Roads?

    Clip: Shailen Bhatt and Stephen Moore discuss the merits of paying for roads with either an increased gas tax or charging tolls to use them.

  • Volley Round: Reduce the Gas Tax by 5 Cents?

    Clip: Each debater gets 30 seconds to react to the argument that the national infrastructure can be sustained with a 5-cent reduction in the federal gas tax.

  • 2-Minute Debate: Raise the Federal Gas Tax to Fund Infrastructure?

    Should we raise the federal gas tax to fund infrastructure? This debate short is part of a series co-produced by Intelligence Squared U.S. and Newsy.

Debate Details

The Highway Trust Fund provides funding for road, bridge, and mass transit projects across the country – and it’s running out of money. Its revenue source, the federal gas tax, at 18.4 cents a gallon, has not been raised in over two decades. Congress has been kicking this can down the road for years. There are many arguments for a leaner fund, among them, the idea that scaling back the program would force government to prioritize projects and eliminate waste. But proponents of the tax say that it still plays a vital role in supporting infrastructure, and that perpetual shortfalls have led to construction delays and uncertainty. Should Congress raise the federal gas tax?

The Debaters

For the motion

Shailen Bhatt

Executive Director, Colorado Dept. of Transportation

Shailen Bhatt was recently appointed as the executive director for the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), where he is charged with leading... Read More

Alison Premo Black

Sr. VP & Chief Economist, American Road & Transportation Builders Association

Alison Premo Black joined the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) in August 2000. In addition to serving as senior vice... Read More

Against the motion

Adrian Moore

VP of Policy, Reason Foundation

Adrian Moore is vice president of policy at Reason Foundation, where he leads policy implementation efforts and conducts his own research on topics... Read More

Stephen Moore

Distinguished Visiting Fellow, The Heritage Foundation

Stephen Moore, who formerly wrote on the economy and public policy for The Wall Street Journal, is a Fox News contributor and the distinguished visiting... Read More

Where Do You Stand?

For The Motion
  • The gas tax is a user fee. The people that pay are the ones that benefit from it.
  • The federal gas tax has not been raised in over 2 decades. If it had been indexed to inflation, 18.4 cents per gallon then would be 29 cents per gallon today.
  • Increasing the gas tax is the easiest and most logical way to increase revenue for the Highway Trust Fund, and it will continue to be a reliable revenue source well into the future.
  • Congress' inability to come up with a long-term solution to provide sufficient funding for the Highway Trust Fund has created uncertainty—delaying and preventing infrastructure projects across the country.
Against The Motion
  • Until government learns to prioritize and cut waste, we should not be pouring more money into the Highway Trust Fund.
  • Instead of collecting and then redistributing funds back to the states, we should let the states take on more of the infrastructure-funding responsibility.
  • As people drive less and as cars become more fuel efficient, it becomes obvious that the gas tax is not a sustainable funding solution.
  • If we stopped using the Highway Trust Fund to pay for non-highway projects, like mass transit and bike paths, we would have enough money to build and maintain our roads and bridges.


  • Live Audience
  • Online Audience
  • Results
  • Breakdown

The Research

The Research

The Highway Trust Fund

Federal Highway Administration
December 31, 1969

A brief description of the Highway Trust Fund.

Five Reasons Not to Raise the Gas Tax

Randal O’Toole
July 3, 2014

Raising the gas tax is the wrong solution because it treats the symptom, and not the underlying reason for the shortfall.

America's Pothole—the Highway Trust Fund

Tom Rice and Ray LaHood
September 29, 2015

We all want a robust long-term transportation bill. And while there is a logical solution — raise the gas tax — Congress has instead set out on a hapless mission to reinvent the wheel.

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