Jim Oberstar has been in Congress a long time. He went to Washington with the Watergate babies following the 1974 election and since he represents Duluth and the Iron Range, he hasn't been seriously challenged for his congressional seat. Aside from someone like this guy, he's about as venerable as they get.
I can only say that Oberstar must feel especially safe about his reelection, because only a guy who has a fiefdom would propose something as dumb as raising the federal gas tax. Per this AP report (via Fox News):
Now, lawmakers quietly are talking about raising fuel taxes by a dime from the current 18.4 cents a gallon on gasoline and 24.3 cents on diesel fuel.
But that's not all. Oberstar and his partner in obliviousness, Peter DeFazio (D-OR) wants to index the tax to inflation, adding a permanent upward ratchet on taxes.
Oberstar, D-Minn., said his committee is working on the next long-term highway bill. He estimated it will take between $450 billion and $500 billion over six years to address safety and congestion issues with highways, bridges and transit systems.
"We'll put all things on the table," Oberstar said, but the gas tax "is the cornerstone. Nothing else will work without the underpinning of the higher user fee gas tax."
At the very least, the gas tax should be indexed to construction cost inflation, DeFazio said.
What a great idea! The average price of gasoline has fallen here in recent days, but it's still at historic highs. The added expenses of transportation are getting passed on throughout the larger economy, which is making things cost more at the grocery store and everywhere else. I saw diesel fuel going for about $4.65/gallon today. Some truckers are parking their rigs. But these guys aren't satisfied.
The Democratic party has been blocking domestic oil exploration for most of my adult lifetime and because enough Republicans have been feckless on the issue (take a bow, Sen. McCain), they've gotten by with it. Now, with many of their constituents suffering real economic hardship, they want to raise taxes on gas further and index it to inflation, locking in higher prices in perpetuity. And yet the Netroots people think that Congress is unpopular because Speaker Pelosi hasn't gotten around to impeaching George W. Bush.
1) What planet do the Democrats live on?
2) How inept is the leadership of the Republican Party if Jim Oberstar and his pals are expected to be able to take over the country in November?
Cross-posted at True North