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How many cans can they kick?

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If you want a break from your fire evacuation prep, packing the photo albums, passports and tax records, you might want to ponder the latest reality avoidance in Congress. It may divert your anger, as you marvel at the many ways fiscal irresponsibility can be taken to new heights. It truly is astonishing.

The latest gimmickry fest involves something called the Highway Trust Fund, which began in the 1950s to support state road building, and like many federal programs, worked well enough for a while. With this trust fund you have a very direct connection, supporting it at a rate of 18.4 cents per gallon for gasoline and 24.4 cents for diesel. Congress, many years back now, decided it enjoyed funding highway projects so much that it would spend more than we made available through taxes on fuel. Soon the trust fund was near depletion, and instead of cutting back on projects, or (gasp) raising the federal fuel tax, it grabbed some general fund money, mostly borrowed, to prop things up. This, of course, only worked temporarily. Now the trust fund is no longer a trust and barely a fund.

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