And if the president isn't willing to stand up for Michigan motorists, the U.S. Congress should.
Or possibly Canada. Hey, they already brought us a bridge, didn't they? In for a dime, in for a dollar, as my grandmother used to say.
The point is that Michigan's Republican state legislators have already done way more than their share to bring the state's long-neglected roads and bridges up to snuff. They've raised state business taxes, the state sales tax and the state income tax. Now it's time for the federal government to do its part by raising the federal gas tax every American pays and sending Michigan more federal dollars to — What's that?
You say Michigan legislators haven't raised any of those state taxes? You say they've actually cut business taxes and personal income taxes that might have generated some of the $4 billion Snyder says is needed to repair Michigan's crumbling infrastructure? Despite abundant evidence that Michiganders would gladly forego those tax cuts if Lansing would fix the damn roads?
You say that back in 2015, when Snyder signed legislation that relied on a wholly theoretical economic boom to boost roads spending significantly (starting in 2021), our accountant-governor already knew it was a fairy tale?
And you say that neighboring states like Ohio, which spends about 40 percent more per capita on roads than Michigan does ($214 per person vs. $154), are laughing their heads off at Snyder's suggestion that they should pay higher federal gas taxes to offset Michigan's self-neglect?
Well, wouldn't you laugh, if you lived in a state that invested in its own roads?
Telling the ugly truth
But before we pick on Snyder any more, we should remember that he's always tried to tell us the truth about Michigan roads.
He has said for years, in his annual State of the State addresses and in his budget messages to the Legislature, that Michigan was investing way less than it needed to in repairing and upgrading its transportation infrastructure. He has warned that motorists who balk at higher gas taxes hikes or vehicle registration fees inevitably end up paying for flat tires and vehicle repairs that cost more than the road maintenance that might have prevented them.
Snyder was right about those things. And he's right when he says a hike in the federal gas tax is long overdue.
Even President Donald Trump, who never met a tax he didn't want to cut, has reportedly told federal lawmakers he's open to raising the gas tax to 25 cents a gallon, up from its current rate of 18.4 cents.
Ottawa, where art thou?
It has been 25 years since then-President Bill Clinton signed the last federal gas tax increase into law, and people who worry about the nation's deteriorating infrastructure, climate change and dependency on foreign oil have been making a strong case for another upward adjustment for more than a decade.
Imagine how much more formidable a player the United States would be on the world's energy stage today if Clinton's successor, George W. Bush, had asked Americans sobered by the 9/11 attacks to pay a dollar more per gallon at the pump, instead of exhorting them to go shopping,
But I digress.
The point is that none of the Republicans who control the U.S. Congress and the Michigan Legislature are paying any attention to Snyder's plea for a gas tax hike.
I can't wait to ask Attorney General Bill Schuette, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and state Sen. Patrick Colbeck (R-Canton), who are all seeking the Republican nomination to succeed Snyder, what they think of his proposal for a federal gas tax hike.
Or how about Michigan's Republican congressional delegation, or the half-dozen or so Republicans vying to replace outgoing U.S. Rep David Trott (R-Birmingham)? Do you suppose they'll embrace their governor's call for higher federal taxes?
I'm guessing they're more excited about state Rep. Coleman Young Jr.'s plan to solve Detroit's public transportation woes with skyTran pods powered by magnetic levitation.
But maybe I'm being too cynical. Maybe a bigger federal government that collects more taxes and takes more responsibility for state and local roads is a Republican idea whose time has come.
In the meantime, though, wouldn't it be great if we could get Canada to bankroll our roads and the skyTran pods?
Brian Dickerson is the Detroit Free Press' editorial page editor. You may contact him at [email protected]