Oh, Nikki, you're better at math than that.

And then there were two.

Earlier tonight I watched part of the debate between Republican presidential candidates Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis. DeSantis is a jerk, and I can't take him seriously. Haley, on the other hand is a smart gal, and offers some hope for bringing some level of sanity back to the Republican party. But she often dumbs things down to appeal to the simple-minded (mostly Trumpers), and that drives me nuts.

Case on point: Haley promised that if elected she would eliminate the federal gasoline tax to reduce the tax burden on working class Americans. Moderator Dana Bash pointed out that the federal gas tax raises over $50 billion annually and is used build and maintain highways and bridges. She then asked Haley how she would pay for those things without it.

Haley responded first by evading the question and talking about taxes in general. But eventually she got back around to the gas tax. She employed a classic Republican talking point saying the states collect the tax then turn it over to the federal government. The federal government then allocates the money back to the states for various road projects. To the layman that sounds like a roundabout way to fund things, but it has the advantage of allocating highway dollars where they're most needed so that poorer states can have roads as nice or nicer than what the wealthy states have.

Haley argued that eliminating the federal gas tax would let the states keep their money and spend it as they see fit. That argument has a certain appeal, but as I already noted it would put less affluent states at a disadvantage. Still, it's a valid topic for discussion, so have at it.

But there's some pesky math that Haley overlooked. If the feds no longer have $50 million to dole out to the states, then the individual states will have to raise taxes to make up the difference. The net benefit to the taxpayers will be zero, zilch. Furthermore, wealthy states will probably have an easier time raising the revenue, but poorer states, which ironically tend to vote Republican, may have to do without.

So, Nikki, just how will your plan save taxpayers money?

One more thing before you go. If you think Donald Trump will do better than Haley read my commentary on Trump's Infrastructure Plan.

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