Seattle

1969 USDOT Mass Transit Trust Fund Proposal

Documents related to the original 1969 proposal by the U.S. Department of Transportation to create an Urban Mass Transportation Trust Fund, to be financed by an extension of the expiring federal excise tax on automobile sales at a rate of 3.5 percent (enough to raise $10 billion over the life of the Trust Fund).

  • July 25, 1969 memo to the White House from Bob Bennett, the USDOT Director of Congressional Relations (and future U.S. Senator) giving the details of outreach meetings held by Transportation Secretary John Volpe and himself regarding the draft proposal.
  • July 30, 1969 memo from White House assistant Congressional liaison Bill Timmons relating to follow-up conversations with Minority Leader Jerry Ford (R-MI) and, most importantly, Ways and Means Committee head Republican John Byrnes.
  • July 29, 1969 memo from USDOT to the White House giving a two-page summary of the proposal and a proposed statement for the President to issue.
  • August 4, 1969 memo to President Nixon from Counsellor to the President Arthur Burns (who had chaired the Council of Economic Advisers under President Eisenhower and who Nixon would make chairman of the Federal Reserve the following year). The memo expresses the opposition of the President’s budget and economic team to the new trust fund, saying that “a trust fund concept is applicable only when the people taxed are also the people being benefited. Beyond this, they fear that further proliferation of trust funds would impair the flexibility that the government needs in managing expenditures.”

President Nixon would reject the Trust Fund approach in the final bill that would be submitted to Congress. (Note: the 1969 USDOT proposal under President Nixon bears some similarities to the December 1968 USDOT proposal under President Johnson.)

Be Part of the Conversation
Sign up to receive news, events, publications, and course notifications.
No thanks