Business group: Raise taxes

My MPR colleague, Bill Catlin, has forwarded what appears at first glance to be a stunner story from Dow Jones. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is calling for an increase in the gas tax. Business and tax increases are not long-time allies.

“Just damn do it,” Chamber President Thomas Donohue said Wednesday at a news briefing. According to a press release from the pro-business group, “he called on Congress not to delay action on a new highway bill as the Obama administration has proposed. Wednesday, the Senate Energy and Public Works Committee backed a plan to put off debate on new highway funding for 18 months, extending current funding levels until then.”

The federal tax hasn’t been increased since 1993. Washington lawmakers are worried about the political backlash of a gas tax increase. To recap: Politicians don’t want to raise taxes; a business group does.

But it may not be that unusual for the Chamber and the gas tax to be friends. When the Minnesota gas tax was raised by the Legislature in 2008, it only gained traction after the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce endorsed the idea. It took cutting the size of a proposed increase in the metro sales tax in the transportation bill, though, to get the chamber on board, however.

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