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For years, U.S. President Barack Obama insisted his “individual mandate” for purchasing health insurance wasn’t a tax.  How come?  Because if the mandate was a tax, Obama would have (once again) broken his 2008 promise not to raise taxes on Americans making $250,000 or less.

Of course when it came time to determine the constitutionality of the mandate, Obama’s lawyers argued that it was … you guessed it … a tax.  And they won.

Similar semantics are now at work in South Carolina, where “Republican” lawmakers who just borrowed half a billion dollars for the state’s sprawling highway system are now looking to raise the state’s gas tax as a way of raising additional money.

Why do they need to do that? Well, they don’t … especially not when there are hundreds of millions of dollars laying around for totally unnecessary projects like this … or this.

Anyway, last month S.C. Sen. Ray Cleary (RINO-Georgetown) proposed a whopping 125 percent increase in the state’s gasoline tax – raising it from 16 to 36 cents over a ten year period beginning in 2015.

Of course to hear Cleary explain things, he’s not raising anybody’s taxes.

RAY CLEARY
RAY CLEARY

“We are not going to raise anybody one penny in taxes,” Cleary told The (Myrtle Beach, S.C.) Sun News. “There are no taxes in anything we are proposing, but there are fees. The difference between a fee and a tax … is that a fee is revenue generated for a specific purpose. If that purpose goes 100 percent to (the S.C. Department of Transportation) to fix their roads, then it is a fee. It is not a tax.”

Wow …

Potato, potato. Tomato, tomato.

Any way you say it, “Republicans” in South Carolina are proposing to take even more money out of your pocket and dump it into yet another failed, corrupt state-controlled system.

Later in the article Cleary adds that “we’re not going to fix the system totally, but if you push enough money into the system, you have less problems with it.”

Unbelievable …

South Carolina administers the nation’s fourth-largest highway system – a whopping 41,613 miles of state-maintained roadways. That’s absolutely ridiculous for a state that ranks No. 40 nationally in terms of size (and No. 24 in terms of population), but it’s what happens when politics dictates the process.

As for funding, according to data compiled by the Reason Foundation, South Carolina ranked No. 2 in the nation in total taxpayer disbursements per mile in 2007. In 2008 and 2009 – the latest years for which data is available – the Palmetto State led the nation in tax money spent per mile of state-maintained roads.

What about bridges? Glad you asked … from 2007-09 South Carolina led the nation in taxpayer disbursements per mile of bridges.

Despite this massive investment, the study found that in 2009 South Carolina ranked No. 48 nationally in terms of its fatality rate, No. 23 in terms of its percentage of structurally deficient bridges and No. 37 in urban interstate congestion.

But hey let’s just raise taxes … errr, sorry Sen. Cleary … “fees” and hope it gets better.