Fox News host Neil Cavuto refused to listen to the facts about the nation's desperate need for more infrastructure spending, instead repeatedly shouting that prior funding must have been "stolen" because some infrastructure "still sucks."
This week Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) is expected to introduce a bill raising the federal gas tax, which supports the Highway Trust Fund used to build transportation infrastructure, by $0.15 per gallon. On December 3, Blumenauer appeared on Fox's Your World with Neil Cavuto to explain his proposal. But rather than allowing a discussion on the reasoning behind the bill, Cavuto shouted over the congressman for more than nine minutes.
Over and over again, Cavuto demanded to know why additional revenue is needed for transit infrastructure, repeatedly interrupting Blumenauer to ask, "what's happened to all the money we've already allocated?" Cavuto indicated that additional spending would be wasteful, because, according to him, the nation's "infrastructure still sucks" despite present funds.
Cavuto even pushed the conspiracy theory that funds previously allocated for transit infrastructure were "stolen," as revenues from the gas tax would be. He shouted:
CAVUTO: Congressman, do you honestly believe -- working with the folks that you do -- that the money that you might get from this gas tax is going to be used exclusively and only for repairing roads and bridges and fixing our highways? Do you think that's really going to be the case? Does the history with the people you work with indicate that that will ever be the case? Really?
BLUMENAUER: Why do you say that? Where do you think it's gone? How did the --
CAVUTO: I don't know. Because our roads and bridges are for crap and this is after we've committed tens of millions of dollars each and every year through a variety of sources and they're still falling apart. So you're saying, maybe the difference - maybe the answer is more money, but the fact of the matter is, the money we've already spent we can't account for
BLUMENAUER: Where do you get that, you can't account for it? That's goofy --
CAVUTO: Can you account for $42 billion? Can you spell out for me, congressman, where that $42 billion has gone?
CAVUTO: If the goal was to fix roads and bridges and they're still -- accurately, to your point, falling apart -- methinks someone has stolen it, someone has taken it.
Cavuto's rant sought to conceal the reality that there is currently not enough funding to support our aging transportation infrastructure.
As Rep. Blumenauer attempted to explain, the federal gasoline tax, which supports the Highway Trust Fund used to build transportation infrastructure, has not been raised in 20 years:
Due largely to inflation, this has meant that there is much less funding for transportation infrastructure such as building and repairing bridges, highways, and roads.
Additionally, public construction spending on highways and roads, as a percentage of GDP, has substantially decreased in recent years, in large part because of tightening budgets at the state and local level.
The consequences are dangerous -- one out of nine bridges in the U.S. are currently structurally deficient, and the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the nation's infrastructure report card for 2013 a grade of D+.
An increase in the federal gas tax is important because the majority of federal funding for highway transportation is drawn from the Highway Trust Fund, which is largely funded from taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel.
As the Congressional Budget Office explained, Congress has avoided shortfalls in the Highway Trust Fund previously "by transferring $41 billion from the general fund of the Treasury," but more is required going forward:
By CBO's estimates, the revenues from the existing excise taxes will fall far short of covering the spending that would result from continuing to obligate funds in the amounts provided for 2013, adjusted for inflation.
Cavuto has continually dismissed the need for additional infrastructure spending, even in the face of deadly infrastructure-related disasters.