Republican Sen. Norm Coleman suggested that the nation's infrastructure is not a question of money, but of making it a priority. "I'm not yet prepared to accept a gas tax increase as the solution," he said.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat, suggested other remedies first. "We should look at closing lucrative loopholes for the big oil companies and rolling back the Bush tax cuts for people making over $336,000 per year before adding another burden on the middle class," she said.
Sen. Klobuchar would penalize productivity, reducing tax revenue by driving the rich harder toward tax shelters, and drive up oil prices by discouraging investment in domestic oil production, but at least she understands that a federal gas tax increase would be burdensome and unnecessary.
(Minnesotans currently pay 20 cents per gallon to the state, and export 18.4 cents per gallon to Washington, D.C. — 38.4 cents per gallon total in state and federal taxes. According to Jason Lewis, oil company profits average around 8 cents per gallon. Is big oil more "lucrative" for the oil companies, or for the government?)
Meanwhile, back in Minnesota, we also need to reexamine our spending priorities. No special session or gas tax increase needed. A gas tax would not raise a large amount of cash immediately, anyway. Emergency funding now on the way from the feds, tapping the state's rainy day funds, and shifting money out of lower priorities, would help meet the urgent need to get the 35W bridge back online as safely and quickly as possible.