(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Ray LaHood: If Congress doesn't step up and either increase the gas tax they'll have to take the money out of the general fund.
America is one big pothole, Neil. If we don't come up with the money, we're in no way shape or form...
Neil Cavuto: ...that money is going. But how sure are you that, that money is going to spent... I've heard of Social Security lockboxes, I've heard a lot of the lockboxes. And I've had a devil of a time seeing this money accounted for collectively because it's worst...anything imaginable. So I'm wondering, before I commit more money or you ask for more money from us, can't we account for the money that's been spent and where it's going.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Here we go again.
Remember the same exchange with a certain congressman who also wanted to hike gas taxes?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Cavuto: So you're saying well maybe the difference, maybe the answer is more money? The fact of the matter is with the money we spend we can't account for it.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore.: Where do you get that? You can't account for it?
Cavuto: Can you account for $42 billion? Can you spell out for me congressman where that 42 billion has gone?
Blumenauer: The budget is available for every state...
Cavuto: I'm aware of the budget. Can you tell me where it's gone? If the goal was to fix roads and bridges and they're still accurately to your point falling apart me thinks someone has stolen it, someone has taken it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
It's getting old. And demanding we simply pour good money after bad is getting old too.
I'm all for fixing our roads and bridges. But first tell me what happened to all the money we've already committed to fixing our roads and bridges.
These guys can't. These guys won't. You guys respond.
Mary H., Tinley Park, Ill.
"It is about time someone started to ask what happened to the money we already provided."
Jim C., Youngstown, Ohio
"Way to go, Neil, you couldn't get him to answer a simple direct question about where the money that has been earmarked to fix our falling bridges and potholed roads has gone. He just wants us to fork over more money... Keep up the good fight, Neil."
Joe E. via EarThlink.net.
"You were quite right in pointing out how much is already collected for these purposes."
Bob P., Verizon, says not so fast.
"I agree with the former secretary, we need to pay for our roads. ..you suggest that the money was there, where did it go? Better fuel efficient cars have slowly diminished the funding, not squandering of funds."
Bob, you're forgetting the simple fact that fuel efficient or not, we have a lot more cars, and a lot more drivers than we did back in 1993, collectively paying a lot more in taxes.
Bill M., via BellSouth, explains it nicely:
"The government doesn't collect percentages, they collect money. The price of gas has gone up 800% in the last 20 years (inflation-adjusted). Much more than most commodities. This dollar increase in actual taxes, even at the same percentage, has increased much greater than the dollar cost of repairing roads."
Bob S, New Hope, Minn. says we as taxpayers are damned if we do, damned if we don't.
"...I wholeheartedly agree with you. He (LaHood) stated that more money is needed because people are driving less, so there is less tax money. Isn't the government's position to use less oil and more renewable energy? So when the public responds and uses less, the answer from the government is to raise the rates to make up the tax money lost... Totally bizarre!"
Almost as bizarre as politicians totally clueless to that fact.
Before you ask for more money. Show me the money. Show me what you've done with my money, with all our money. Then I'm happy to give you more money, if after all that, you've proven your lockbox for transportation spending only is empty.
Let's just say in the meantime, Joe L., suspects someone else has gotten into that lockbox.
"Neil, you were dead right to focus on the locked box. What a crock. Social security is supposed to be a locked box, but you look in the box, all you find is I.O.U.'s. I have my belly full of these liars."
Thomas S. via Hotmail.com.
"Whenever you are driving on a highway late at night in New Jersey and you pass the guys working construction at 1 A.M., just remember they are getting paid double overtime, regardless of how many hours they have worked."
That's done for easing traffic jams, Thomas, and I'm ok with it. At least they're working. I'm telling you, this math is not working. Not even close.
Terry B. via AOL, demands answers, not from the secretary from me.
"Neil, if you know something, please tell us what it is that causes you to suggest the money has been misspent."
Ditto Helena S., Bradenton, Fla.
"Neil, while we love you, you are completely off the track the money being collected does go to infrastructure repair, but there is much more that needs to be done than there are dedicated funds."
Not so, guys, the money collected should more than cover our infrastructure needs. But it doesn't. Why?
True, the gas tax hasn't gone up, but revenues from gas taxes certainly have.
And that's because, as I keep saying, there are a lot more drivers, and a lot more cars, paying a lot more in total gas taxes.
And not just federal gas taxes. In just the last 20 years, states and cities and counties have added taxes and fees of their own.
To the point where between Uncle Sam and the states, they're collecting 85 billion bucks in fuel taxes from us.
Then there's the 12 billion bucks in tolls.
--the 9.8 billion in property taxes and assessments earmarked for infrastructure repairs.
--the 14.5 billion in additional local and state ancillary fees.
--the 62 billion smackers in combined oil company taxes, presumably siphoned for just this sort of thing, or, we were told, would be.
No wonder Reason Magazine editor Matt Welch says the issue isn't the money we're paying, but where the heck it's going.
We're talking 121 billion dollars every year.
And keep in mind I'm leaving out the nearly 800 billion bucks in stimulus largely allocated to fixing roads and bridges for shovel-ready jobs.
But I'm still shoveling through all these politicians' promises, trying to find out where it all went, and where it's all still going.
Because by my math, we are taking in more than enough to cover the very real infrastructure necessary spending we need.
You don't solve a problem throwing money at a problem unless you can account for the money you've already thrown at the problem.
And we're not doing that. We're not even hearing that.
We're looking like sinners if we dare raise that.
Like the great war on poverty we have yet to win, despite spending trillions. You look callous if you dare ask why are politicians still starving for funds?
They're starving because they're controlling. And they're wasting. And they're stealing. And they're hiding. And they're saying that those who dare question their good intentions haven't any good in them at all.
It's not callous to ask where all of this dough is going.
It's callous not to.
Because this isn't about paying for another bridge to nowhere.
This is about digging an even deeper hole that never leads us anywhere.