Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Highway money vote presents a choice for Tom Cotton

Posted By on Tue, Jul 15, 2014 at 6:02 AM

The House will vote today on what's described as a bipartisan agreement to extend the highway trust fund.

It's not a pretty solution. Accounting trickery — which uses an accounting gimmick that underfunds pensions to provide continuing money for road construction — is no way to run a government.

There's been this development: The Club for Growth and the Heritage Action Fund — conservative groups that believe government should be strangled and billionaires protected from taxation — have objected to the legislation. For one thing, the Senate version  closes some modest tax loopholes.

These groups will "score" the votes. Hold them against members of Congress, in other words.

Both parties seem to believe the legislation will pass anyway. We'll be watching the roll call for Rep. Tom Cotton, whose first race for office was financed by the Club for Growth, again a major player in his campaign for Senate.

An Arkansas lobbyist  told me over the weekend of the cool reception contractors get in visits to Cotton in Washington about the desperate need to keep the highway trust fund solvent. By this account, Cotton's response was not to look for federal spending advocacy from him. If Arkansas voters want to pay to raise taxes to build highways, that's up to them. Lost on Cotton is the plain arithmetic: Arkansas gets far more money back from the U.S. than it pays in the taxes that go into the trust fund. Its taxpayers can't afford to pay for all the interstate construction money required in our bridge state, even now a never-ending project requiring huge borrowing against future federal highway revenues.

UPDATE: Cotton joined the other Arkansas Repubs in joining in passage if the Bill Tuesday evening. Club for Growth must have given him a pass. 

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