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Instead of transferring the gasoline tax to the states, he wants to remove the federal highway trust fund (where the gasoline taxes technically flow) from the budgetary process. This would place $15 billion completely in the hands of Bud Shuster and other political bosses.
Rep. Shuster may also be willing to dedicate as much as one-half cent of the gasoline tax for funding Amtrak, providing life support to a hopeless federal boondoggle.
This ploy would give Rep. Shuster an important ally, Amtrak enthusiast William Roth, the Delaware Republican who chairs the Senate Finance Committee.
The highway bill offers a clear test of whether members of Congress will relinquish a bit of their power or will succumb to the temptation -- as Gov. Lepetomaine said in Mel Brooks' "Blazing Saddles"-- to protect their phony-baloney jobs.
For now, bet on the baloney.