Highway funding? DeFazio would tax oil speculators

| 6/25/2009

U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-OR, has come up with a proposal to fund highways and bridges for the next six years.

The chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit says he would supplement the Highway Trust Fund by slapping a tax on people who speculate in the oil market with no intention of ever actually taking delivery on any oil.

Speculation has been widely blamed for keeping the price of oil – as well as diesel and gasoline – artificially high at a time when demand for oil is low and supplies are plentiful.

DeFazio is one of four co-authors of a six-year, $500-billion transportation authorization bill currently in draft form on Capitol Hill. The bill could reach a House vote sometime this summer, but funding the bill continues to be a matter of debate.

“A transaction tax on crude oil securities will close the gap in funding a 21st-century transportation system while lowering the price of oil. This is a win-win,” DeFazio said in a statement Thursday, June 25.

DeFazio said the tax would control inflated oil prices by acting as a deterrent to the speculative market. He said his tax would raise $190 billion for roads and bridges during the six-year life of the authorization bill.

Also on Thursday, DeFazio and fellow Democrats on the T&I Committee sent a letter asking President Obama to give up on an idea that an 18-month extension of existing transportation programs should take precedence over a complete transportation overhaul this year.

“If we put off this transportation authorization, we will push off needed reform,” he stated.

– By David Tanner and Reed Black, staff writers