Not sure this is a good crusade for Sen. Coats to be pursuing:
The Senate easily rejected Tuesday an effort by Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., to boost highway funding for Indiana and some other states while lowering it for others.
The Senate voted 70-28 to reject Coats' amendment to a highway funding bill, which would have meant an additional $284 million for Indiana roads. Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., voted for the amendment.
Coats said the highway bill the Senate is considering is unfair to Indiana, which has historically received less in federal funding than residents have paid in federal gas taxes.
"A majority of states, like Indiana and many, many others, do not receive a fair share of the distribution of highway funds," Coats said.
Granted, his amendment would have just moved money around; it wouldn't have increased the overall cost of the bill. And it's a verifiable fact that Indiana's "realtive share" of funding (meaning money received as a percentage of federal gas taxes paid) is lower than almost every other state's.
But Coats' "fair share" argument is the same kind of reasoning that has always contributed to the growing federal budget. Stop spending, stop spending, but give us ours first! And, lord, I do hate to agree with Barbara Boxer, but "fair return" is not the only factor to consider -- things like the amount of use a state's roads get and maintenance costs matter, too. Whether or not those things are rationally weighed is another matter, of course.
I'd have liked his proposal a lot better if he'd said something like, "Indiana isn't getting its fair share, so let's address that in a bill that cuts the overall spending by 15 percent or so." Cutting the overall spending would be the logical thing to do, since the "user fee" income from the gas tax is generating less revenue because (in part) of more fuel-efficient cars. Instead, they pretend they're looking for other ways to pay for road and bridge projects, when all they end up doing is adding to the deficit and debt. Mindset matters, and Coats went to Washington telling us his was that of a zealous fiscal conservative. Not seeing that here.