debateBy Eileen Houlihan, ARTBA senior writer/editor

ARTBA Chief Economist, Dr. Alison Premo Black and her debate partner laid the smackdown on their opponents—the Heritage Foundation’s Stephen Moore (also a former member of “The Wall Street Journal” editorial board), and the Reason Foundation’s Adrian Moore—during an Oct. 27 debate on the gas tax in New York City.  The event, “Raise the Federal Gas Tax to Fund Infrastructure,” was hosted by Intelligence Squared U.S. Black, joined by Shailen Bhatt, Colorado Department of Transportation executive director, successfully persuaded 66 percent of the in-house audience members and was declared winner for the motion that the federal gas tax should be raised. The tally of an online poll was even stronger: 78 percent for and 22 percent against.

The live debate was also broadcast on the IQ2 website and will run on syndicated public radio.

Aided by the facts and brushing aside the ideologically-driven rhetoric of her opponents, Black argued that the federal gas tax remains vital to the economic health of our country. “This money is not just for the 40,000 miles of the Interstate Highway System, but for the other roads that are interconnected to our airports, our ports and major cities,” she noted.  She said the interest remains in supporting roads across the country, from Seattle to people in Florida, especially when it comes to shipping freight. “Our economy does not stop at the border,” Black stressed, a sentiment that was retweeted on Twitter over 35 times.

Black also asked audience members if they would spend 25 cents a day to reduce traffic. “I would gladly pay 25 cents a day, which is the cost of raising the federal gas tax by 15 cents to the average driver, if it meant that I could spend less time commuting in traffic and more time with my family,” she said. “If you were to ask most Americans if they would make that choice – not to raise their tax, but to increase their investment in this network that is so important to our national economy, and so important to future generations – I think that most people would be willing to do that,” she added.

A “nonpartisan, nonprofit organization,” Intelligence Squared U.S. was founded a decade ago to “restore civility, reasoned analysis, and constructive public discourse to today’s often biased media landscape.”  IQ2US has reached millions through multi-platform distribution, including radio, television, live streaming, podcasts, and interactive digital content. It has been one of the top 25 most popular podcasts on iTunes and has been recognized with multiple awards, including three consecutive New York Festivals International Radio Awards for Best Public Affairs Program.

Watch the full video.