GOP chairman: Clinton nomination would be ‘good for Republicans’

Hillary Clinton, 2016
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House Transportation Committee Chairman Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) said Monday that Hillary Clinton winning the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 would be “good for Republicans.”

Clinton announced her long-awaited second run for the White House on Sunday, and she is widely considered to be the favorite to win the Democratic nomination to replace President Obama next year. 

Shuster said during an interview on Fox News on Monday that Clinton’s campaign would amount to “a third term for Barack Obama [and] his … failed policies.”  

{mosads}He added that Clinton has “a lot to answer for,” ticking off a list of common Republican complaints about her tenure as secretary of State during Obama’s first term. 

“As secretary of State, she was responsible for our foreign policy when the Arab Spring occurred,” Shuster said. “We didn’t respond appropriately and now the Middle East is in chaos. She gave us Benghazi and then recently we find she wasn’t using the appropriate email system and actually deleted [her emails].” 

Shuster predicted Republicans would be able to nominate a candidate who can beat Clinton in the 2016 general election, though he did not mention any of the GOP candidates that have already announced their bids for the White House by name.  

“I don’t think she’s the right person for the job, but I think it’s good if she’s running. … If she’s the Democratic nominee, I think that will be good for Republicans,” he said. 

“I think we have a lot of capable people running,” he continued. “What I want to hear from a Republican candidate is talking about the investment in infrastructure [and] the transportation system.” 

Shuster was speaking Monday as lawmakers in Congress are struggling to come up with a way to pay for an extension of the federal government’s current transportation funding measure that is scheduled to expire on May 31. 

Clinton has not addressed transportation funding since she launched her presidential campaign on Sunday, but she has criticized Republicans in the past for rejecting President Obama’s calls for increasing the nation’s spending on roads and transit. 

Transportation advocates in Washington have pushed for an increase in the federal gas tax to pay for a long-term transportation bill. The tax, which is currently 18.4 cents per gallon, has not been increased since 1993. 

Infrastructure groups have pointed to states like Illinois that have raised their own gas tax as evidence that a national hike would be politically palatable this year. 

Conservative groups in Washington have made clear that they would consider an increase in the federal fuel levy a tax hike, however.

Shuster said an idea that has been floated by both parties to use money from taxes that are collected on corporate profits that are stored overseas is a more viable way of paying for a new round of transportation spending this year. 

“There’s a number of ideas out there,” he said. “It seems to me that … the most popular one is repatriation of funds.” 

Shuster said he took issue with a proposal from President Obama to charge companies a mandatory 14 percent tax rate for foreign profits to pay for the transportation bill, despite the seeming bipartisan agreement on using repatriation as an infrastructure funding source. 

“Unlike the president who uses a punitive approach, Republicans in the past have used it as sort of a carrot to get those folks that have foreign profits overseas to bring them back,” he said. “You get a two-fer for it. You get the money to fully fund the trust fund, but you also get companies bringing back their dollars to reinvest in their business.”  

The gas tax has been the main source of transportation funding for decades, but it has not been increased since 1993, sapping its buying power.

While the tax hike has backing from business associations and unions, opposition from conservative groups such as Heritage Action and the Club for Growth has caused GOP leaders in the House to suggest it is a non-starter.

The federal government typically spends about $50 billion per year on transportation projects, but the gas tax will only bring in $34 billion annually without an increase.  

The Department of Transportation has said its Highway Trust Fund will run out of money in July if lawmakers do not reach an agreement on an extension. 

Tags Bill Shuster Gas Tax Highway bill Highway Trust Fund Hillary Clinton MAP-21 Reauthorization
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