Republicans have been spouting lots of good rhetoric, but what really matters is shrinking the burden of government. One very attractive option is federalism. There are things that perhaps should be done by government, but there is absolutely no reason why they require a remote, expensive, one-size-fits-all, redistributionist, unconstitutional bureaucracy in Washington.
Writing for Real Clear Markets, Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the Hudson Institute uses highway funding as an example of how we can get much better results if Washington butts out and lets states make their own decisions. She doesn’t take this argument to its logical conclusion and urge the dismantling of the Department of Transportation, but I’ll unabashedly take that extra step. Don’t just shut it down. Bury it in a lead-lined coffin, cover it with six feet of concrete, and then add a foot of salt to make sure it doesn’t somehow spring back to life.
By ceasing to authorize expenditures from the Highway Trust Fund, and ending the 18-cent federal gasoline tax, Congress could let the trust fund expire and turn highway spending authority back to the states-along with the ability to levy the fuel tax for their own coffers. Such devolution of responsibility to states would release them from expensive federal laws and regulations associated with current highway spending, such as environmental laws that add years to project construction (remember “shovel-ready” road projects?). Nor would states be bound by Davis-Bacon prevailing-wage requirements and Project Labor Agreements, which require the use of costly union labor on construction projects. …Removing federal restrictions would expand states’ opportunities to raise revenue by imposing highway tolls, which could ease traffic congestion by varying prices depending on when traffic is heavy or light. Such toll roads in southern California have eased congestion and raised revenue for the state. Each state would be able to fund and build the roads it wants, using a combination of taxes, bond issues, tolls, and public-private partnerships.