"If President Obama were to honestly consider the gas tax ... he would find support where he least expects it," the senator said in prepared remarks. "Today, groups that don't traditionally back tax increases — among them the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Trucking Association — have come out in support of a gas tax increase because of this reauthorization bill's ability to put Americans back to work."
Obama is expected to pay for the initiative by rescinding tax breaks used by the oil and gas industry. Voinovich argues that approach is not as transparent as a tax on gas that end-users know they are paying.
"As President Ronald Reagan said in 1982, when the nation was facing record unemployment above 10 percent, 'Good tax policy decrees that, whenever possible, a fee for a service should be assessed against those who directly benefit from that service,' " Voinovich said. "It was a tough pill for his colleagues to swallow. But in the end, Congress passed the much-needed Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982, which provided a five-cent gas tax increase and created hundreds of thousands of jobs. History speaks for itself."
Voinovich in August sent Obama a letter urging him to use a gas tax to pay for his new initiative.
"I understand that because of the gnashing of teeth about who will control Congress that a vote on reauthorization will not likely occur before [the] November elections, but to get this bill done before the end of the year requires your leadership," the letter states. "So I urge you to help us pass this important legislation much like President Reagan did in 1982. Without your support, it will surely not get done this year, and God only knows what the negative impact on our country will be."