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US should hike the federal gas tax to pay for roads, says Trump infrastructure advisor LeFrak

  • It's the "best time in the world" to borrow money to help fund President Trump's infrastructure plans, Richard LeFrak says.
  • The billionaire real estate developer calls the historically low interest rates "delicious."

Historically low interest rates present "the best time in the world" to borrow money to help fund President Donald Trump's desire to spend $1 trillion to build the nation's infrastructure, Richard LeFrak told CNBC on Wednesday.

Even with more Federal Reserve rates hikes expected this year, the cost of borrowing is "delicious," said LeFrak, who along with Vornado's Steven Roth is leading a White House council on fostering public-private partnerships to help pay for infrastruture projects.

The president's budget proposal, unveiled last week, called for $200 billion in federal infrastructure funds with hopes to leverage $800 billion more in private and state government investments.

LeFrak said he would advocate an increase in the gas tax to help pay for infrastructure projects. Revenue from the levy goes to the Highway Trust Fund, which pays for road construction and mass transportation.

But he argued it wouldn't really be an increase: "You'd be leveling it to where it would have been had they adjusted it for inflation in 1993."

"If they did adjust it for inflation ... it actually would produce tens of billions of dollars to annual revenue that would be reinvested," he added. He acknowledged that a gas tax hike would hurt lower-income Americans more than the wealthy.

Earlier in May, Trump said he would consider raising the federal gasoline tax, which is 18.4 cents a gallon on retail gas and 24.4 cents a gallon for diesel. The average state tax on gasoline was 27.3 cents as of Jan. 1.

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