OnPolitics: Keep your eye on the money

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg speaks to Amtrak employees during a visit to Union Station February 5, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Alex Wong, Getty Images)

Attorney General Merrick Garland wants to stop the hate.

Citing an “urgent” need to reset hate-crime enforcement strategy, the nation’s chief law enforcement officer launched a 30-day review to assess the government’s tracking capabilities and prosecution of hate offenses that are surging across the country.

Though not mentioning the Georgia mass shooting specifically, Garland vowed to “seek justice for the victims of the hate-fueled mass murders that we have seen too many times in the past several years.”

It’s Mabinty, with the top political news of the day.

Biden’s next legislative hurdle: Infrastructure

The lack of sustainable funding has thwarted highway bills for decades. Now, President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg are learning this lesson the hard way.

As Biden prepares to reveal his infrastructure package on Wednesday, he could run into the same potential roadblock faced by his predecessor: how to pay for it. Officials have suggested taxing the wealthy or corporations rather than increased user fees, the primary source of funding for the nation’s roads and bridges.

The problem: Not enough funds. The gas tax, which is the primary contributor to the Highway Trust Fund, isn’t indexed for inflation and hasn’t kept pace with construction needs as cars became more fuel-efficient. Congress set the taxes of 18.4 cents a gallon for gasoline and 24.3 cents a gallon for diesel fuel in 1993.

Fuel taxes have provided 85% to 90% of the money in the Highway Trust Fund most years, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. But since 2008, that has not been enough, and Congress has transferred $157 billion there from the general treasury to keep the wheels turning.

Mixed signals: Buttigieg said at his January confirmation hearing that he was open to all funding options, but his spokesman quickly clarified that those options did not include a gas tax increase. He also told CNBC on Friday that a vehicle-miles-traveled tax “shows a lot of promise.”

Pump the brakes: Both a new mileage tax or an increase in the existing gas tax would bump up against Biden’s pledge not to raise taxes on people making less than $400,000.

The Trumps are back in the news

Former President Donald Trump and former first lady Melania Trump have launched a website for the couple’s personal offices. The site — found at 45office.com — states it is “committed to preserving the magnificent legacy of the Trump Administration, while at the same time advancing the America First agenda.”

The site also shares the former president and first lady’s biographies and touts the Trump administration’s record in office.

Reminder: While the former first lady maintains social media accounts, the former president has been barred from most social media sites since early January.

What else is going on?

  • Report: Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz considering taking a job at Newsmax
  • Biden judicial nominees represent diverse professional backgrounds, identities
  • Biden to elevate potential Supreme Court nomineeto high-profile appeals court
  • Arkansas bill banning treatments for transgender youth heads to governor

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take — Wayne Gretsky — Michael Scott —Mabinty

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