American Shipper

Official reiterates White House gas tax position

Official reiterates White House gas tax position

   White House Chief of Staff William Daley on Sunday ruled out a raise in the gas tax to help pay for transportation infrastructure, holding true to the Obama administration's position held since taking office two years ago.

   'I don't think raising taxes on the American people right now is the way to go at this point of our economy, but we want to sit down with the leadership of Congress as we work through the deficit, as we work through the other issues, and talk about the possibilities. Reality is certain people in the Republican Party have said they're not going to look for any revenue-raising in any way shape or form,' Daley said on CBS's 'Face the Nation.'

   The White House, however, does endorse private sector initiatives to help finance high-speed rail and other projects. Experts believe that such financing schemes are applicable in a limited number of projects that have the potential to make money, through tolls or other fees, and are not a solution for rehabilitating the entire surface transportation system.

   'If there's a private-public partnership I think that's a creative way to move forward,' he said.

   Daley, a former executive at Wall Street firm JP Morgan Chase who just joined the Obama administration, said the government needs to tackle the deficit and debt the way a business would, and not just through indiscriminate budget cuts.

   He acknowledged that the president's pay freeze for federal workers, which is expected to save $400 billion over several years, is only the first of many steps that must be taken to fix the nation's balance sheet.

   'We got into this hole over many years. No business when they get in trouble just cuts and has much of a business when the cycle comes back. What the president has talked about is investing. And the time to invest while you're cutting is to take some of those cuts and invest them in things that will have a return as you come out of this recession. That's what successful companies do and that's what the government has to do,' Daley said. ' Eric Kulisch