June 18

As a person with deep Tennessee roots, I am proud of Sen. Bob Corker (although I know in the crazy atmosphere of today, members of one party don’t often welcome praise from someone from the other party). But, as my grandmother from Wilson County used to say, I’m going to “brag on him,” just a little.

The Tennessee Republican, in a move that truly passes for courage these days in the GOP ranks, has endorsed raising the gas tax to replenish the depleting Highway Trust Fund that pays for repairs to roads, bridges and tunnels. The tax hasn’t been raised since 1993, and Corker and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) have written a bill to do just that. The bill has some sweeteners, in the the form of some worthy or (depending on your point of  view) unworthy extensions of tax breaks, to allow the sponsors to say that their bill is “new tax neutral.” That’s too bad, but it shouldn’t get in the way of the main objective: Fix the roads, stupid! You don’t need any more studies to document the cracking, peeling and heaving of our nation’s entire infrastructure; you just have to drive and hope that you don’t fall into some horror-movie-like crevasse or drop from a collapsed bridge.

So, thank you, Sen. Bob Corker. You might even have pleased one of your predecessors, Albert Gore Sr., who wrote and shepherded the original legislation creating the interstate highway system. It’s past time to fix it.