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Paul slams gas tax hike in 2016 kickoff

Paul slams gas tax hike in 2016 kickoff
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Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSaudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP Noisy democracy, or rude people behaving like children? Lawmakers, Wall Street shrug off Trump's escalating Fed attacks MORE (R-Ky.) slammed the idea of increasing the federal gas tax to help pay for a new transportation bill in a speech announcing his 2016 presidential bid on Tuesday. 

Speaking to supporters in Louisville, Ky., Paul said he would rather use revenue from taxing corporate profits that are stored overseas than new gas taxes to pay for an extension of the highway funding measure that is currently set to expire on May 31. 

“More than $2 trillion in American profit currently sits overseas,” he said. “In my vision for America, new highways and bridges will be built across the country, not by raising your taxes, but by lowering the tax to bring this American profit home.” 

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Paul has formed an unlikely duo with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), introducing legislation with a measure to use corporate tax revenue to finance a new round of transportation spending earlier this year. 

The proposal, known as repatriation, has drawn bipartisan support as lawmakers struggle to come up with a way to pay for a transportation funding extension this year. The proposal is also included in a $478 billion transportation bill that was proposed by President Obama.

Paul and Boxer’s plan, though, would offer lower tax rates to companies to encourage them to voluntarily move the money back to the U.S. instead of imposing a mandate.

Critics of the repatriation proposal say it'll cost the federal government more in the long run than it brings in for transportation projects. 

“Tax holiday proposals designed to pay for the transportation bill sound great until you look at the details," Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said in a statement after Boxer and Paul’s plan was released.

"After all, the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) has clearly detailed how a stand-alone temporary tax holiday would end up costing the government in the end," Hatch continued. "Saying you're going to use something that loses money to pay for anything is just wrong. Therefore, saying you're going to use it to pay for infrastructure is just bad policy, plain and simple.” 

Transportation advocates who have pushed hard for a gas tax increase argue that the repatriation proposal would only provide a one-time infusion of cash for infrastructure projects. They say a gas tax hike would provide a more permanent solution because it would offer a dedicated source of funding. But lawmakers have been reluctant to ask drivers to pay more at the pump.

Paul said in his presidential announcement speech that repatriation is the most viable way to pay for a long-term transportation funding bill this year

“Even in this polarized Congress, we have a chance of passing this,” he said. “I say let's bring $2 trillion home to America, let's bring it home now.”