August 5th, 2007
10:49 AM ET
12 years ago

GOP contenders: Tax hike not answer for fixing bridges

(CNN) – Several Republican presidential candidates said a tax hike to pay for fixing bridges and the nation’s infrastructure was not the answer in the wake of the deadly Minneapolis bridge collapse.

The comments came during a GOP presidential debate in Des Moines, Iowa, broadcast on ABC’s “This Week”.

Asked if he would support a gas tax increase to go towards repairs, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said, “There is a liberal Democratic assumption that if you raise taxes, you raise money. We should put more money into infrastructure. We should have agood program for doing it. But the kneejerk liberal Democratic reaction - raise taxes to get money - very often is a very big mistake.”

Giuliani said in New York City, he was able to raise more money for capital improvement projects through an income tax cut he said ultimately generated more revenues. He said they were able to cut the number of “poor bridges from 5 percent to 1.7 percent.”

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney said “if you really want to make some money in
this country, really get some money so we can repair our infrastructure and build for the future, the biggest source of that is a growing American economy.”

He said a change of priorities is need for urgent bridge repairs, saying “we have to reorient how we spend our money.” Romney said in Massachusetts, “we found that we had 500 bridges, roughly, that were deemed structurally deficient. And so we changed how we focused our money. Instead of spending it to build new projects - the bridge to nowhere, new trophies for congressmen - we instead said, "Fix it first."

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckaee said the U.S. needed to out money into bridge and transportation improvements at home before giving money for projects in other countries. He said, “it's not necessarily that we raise a tax to fix what we ought to fix of this country. We're spending billions of dollars all over our country and around the world, but it may be time that we start spending some of those billions of dollars to deal with our own infrastructure.”

He said the Minnesota disaster and last month’s New York City underground explosion highlight a growing problem, saying, “it's not being talked about. And it's our bridges, our interstates, our sewer and water treatment systems. They're crumbling. They're old. We saw an 85-year-old steam pipe explode in the middle of Manhattan recently. And we have to start addressing building this country, not everybody else's.”

Senator John McCain, R-Arizona, said Congress shares blame for problems with the nation’s bridges and roads. “ We passed a $50 billion transportation bill that had $2 billion in pork barrel earmarked projects, “ he said, “ $233 million for a bridge to nowhere in Alaska, to an island with 50 people on it. Not one dime in those pork barrel projects was for inspection or repair of bridges.”

–CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk

Filed under: Iowa • John McCain • Mike Huckabee • Mitt Romney • Race to '08 • Rudy Giuliani
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Dennis Wiles, Atlanta, GA

    The solution lies in not putting the nation into massive debt with republican tax cuts for the wealthiest (when just 7 years ago we had a huge surplus) and not spending billions on a war that has no productive outcome. If all that money would have been spent appropriately on things like infrastructure (like the levies in New Orleans) we would be much better off today.

    August 5, 2007 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  2. Eyckie, Toronto, Ontario

    I love these Republicans that can't face reality. Take the money from the Iraq war and all of the billions of dollars this administration has stolen from the American people to give to their crony contractors and rebuild the whole country. Take the tax breaks given to the obscenely wealthy and fix healthcare, social security and education.
    They need to look after the American people instead of trying to spread their brand of democracy in places it isn't going to happen. Republicans are deaf but so obvioulsly is Congress. Toothless and spineless isn't cutting it with Americans. Congress needs to grow a conscience because they certainly aren't listening either.

    August 5, 2007 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  3. wayne

    There would be plenty of money available at both the federal and state levels if it wasn’t for the mismanagement of the taxes they get now.

    I’m not thrilled about new taxes if the money went where it was supposed to go. State and Federal highway taxes go into the general fund and are used for anything and everything.

    Even when highway and fuel taxes go toward highways it may not be for noise walls for the idiots that moved in next to an interstate or flowers along the roadside or something just as useful.

    August 5, 2007 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  4. Mrs. America

    We had a "face saving" opportunity to bail out of Iraq when Hurricane Katrina hit. Our resourses were needed at home. We have another opportunity now. Our resources are needed at home. Will the politicians get it? Nah, probably not. What do they care? They're basking on vacation (as is the Iraqi Parliament–not that they reported to work much anyway) while our kids get no vacation and put their lives on the line every day in sweltering heat.

    August 5, 2007 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  5. James, Minneapolis, MN

    I never thought I'd agree with Mike Huckster-bee about anything but he's absolutely right on this issue. while we're spending 10 freaking!!! billion dollars a month referee-ing a civil war in Iraq, our country is crumbling from under us. The last thing we need in this country is higher taxes! What is this Sweden? I drive over the I-35W to work daily and I was shocked that this bridge was rated "structurally deficient" yet absolutely no plans were in place to overhaul it. Yet, our leaders want us to stay the course in Iraq.

    August 6, 2007 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  6. JB Annandale, VA

    There are federal taxes on gasoline that go into a highway trust fund. Therefore, the money is already there to fix the bridges. The problem is that outlays from this fund would add to the federal expenditures which would look bad. It's always been a non-partisan game of smoke and mirrors regarding federal spending.

    August 6, 2007 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  7. Loma Linda, Ca.

    So, here this Guliani guy, a true liar in my book, as he tries to blabber himself out of being the believer in murdering unborn babies to where now he is all for life, the guy who also, I wonder knows how many ladies he has gone to bed with over the years? So, this is the Democracy under God now seen the world over? Nothing but the outhouse of the world! Yes, I am fedup and wish to say so! Will it help? No, because, Washington is now the real source of all corruption in America! Spending millions to lie about each other politician, in the name of Democracy? Good going America!

    August 6, 2007 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  8. leftylosey

    Tax the rich until there are no rich. Then we can all live in poverty with no one to blame.

    August 6, 2007 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  9. LoooseyGoosey

    Mrs. America,

    You must be one fine looking lady..,
    because your as dumb as a stump.

    August 6, 2007 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  10. James, NY, NY

    Bridges didn't get fixed any better when we weren't at war.

    Taxation was only meant for defense, infrastructure and a few other things. Instead we have big government for everything under the sun.

    If Social Welfare was meant to exist then why were so many of the current programs created during the Great Depression and not shortly after the founding of this nation? Answer: The founding fathers believed in personal accountability and responsibility. They did not believe in the redistribution of wealth. When an early congress tried to create a National Bank, Jefferson vetoed it because those powers were not given to the government.

    Thanks to our "outstanding" education system, politicians are able to get away with a lot because most Americans don't know what is written in the Constitution. They also have been sold this idea that the Constitution is a living document and is open to personal interpretation. If that is the case the Ammendment process wouldn't be so difficult because all you wuold need is someone to re-interpret the Constition.

    August 6, 2007 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  11. tonyrem, fort worth, tx

    I seem to recall something called the "Highway Trust Fund". Maybe it's my imagination but every time you buy gas, there is atax that falls into that kitty.

    "The HTF was created as a user-supported fund. Simply, the revenues of the HTF were intended for financing highways, with the taxes dedicated to the HTF paid by the users of highways. This principle is still in effect, but the tax structure has changed since 1956. Major revisions occurred as a result of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) of 1982 and the Deficit Reduction Act of 1984. Those acts increased the motor-fuel taxes for the first time since 1959. The 1982 STAA also established a special Mass Transit Account in the HTF to receive part of the motor-fuel tax"

    August 7, 2007 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  12. Bush 08 San Francisco, Cal

    Why didnt Willy fix the bridge when he was in office?

    August 8, 2007 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
  13. Colonel Gene McVay, Fort Smith, AR

    I ran against Mike Huckabee for governor of Arkansas in 1998. He spent over a million dollars to defeat me.
    Mike Huckabee knows how to spend money. As governor he increased state spending by over 65% and campaigned to raise taxes. He granted clemency 669 times which is more than the 507 clemencies given by the three previous governors combined. Many of the clemencies were granted to convicted murderers. The CATO Institute gave him an "F" grade for spending and tax policy in 2006, and an overall grade of "D" for his governorship.
    In 2002 he narrowly defeated State Treasurer Jimmie Lou Fisher, garnering 53% of the vote to her 47%. He was lucky that a more formidable candidate did not emerge in that election.
    What does a former governor do with that kind of record? Why, run for president of The United States, that's what.

    August 8, 2007 09:47 am at 9:47 am |