The Joe Biden administration is providing all sorts of opportunities to relive our childhood memories these days, none more so than the recent announcement from Secretary of
Transportation Pete Buttigieg, who suggested in his boyish, aw shucks manner that the president is considering a tax on miles driven.
For me, the notion of taxing a basic freedom -- such as driving -- sounded like echoes of the Beatles’ “Taxman” song, written in the mid-60’s. In case you’ve forgotten, the chorus goes a little like this:
(If you drive a car)
I'll tax the street
(If you try to sit)
I'll tax your seat
(If you get too cold)
I'll tax the heat
(If you take a walk)
I'll tax your feet
According to Wikipedia, “Written by the group's lead guitarist, George Harrison, with some lyrical assistance from John Lennon, it protests against the higher level of progressive tax imposed in the United Kingdom by the Labour government of Harold Wilson, which saw the Beatles paying over 90 per cent of their earnings to the Treasury.”
The Beatles might’ve been all about peace, love and granola, but apparently they were bitten by the toxic big government tax bug as well.
Far be it from me to suggest that Joe Biden’s people are savvy enough to tap the minds of brilliant artists like the Beatles for ideas on how or why to levy taxes, but it seems like mileage is the only thing on the song’s list that isn’t yet subject to some sort of fee or tax right now. For there are tolls (for the street), sales taxes (for the seat), utility taxes (for the heat) and assorted taxes associated with healthcare and the land on which you stroll (for your feet).
Taxing mileage driven seems like something Biden and Buttigieg might’ve come up with during a cabinet meeting where the various secretaries chatted brainlessly over their ages and favorite music growing up. Maybe someone said, “Hey Pete, you weren’t even born when the ‘British invasion’ occurred in the 60’s (note: 39-year-old former South Bend, Indiana mayor was born in 1982, so he missed all that great 70’s music too. Does he know who the Bee Gees are?).
“Have you even heard of The Beatles?” And it went on from there.
“U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Friday President Biden is weighing a ‘mileage tax’ on drivers as a way to help pay for his forthcoming infrastructure plan that could cost upwards of $3 trillion.
“’I think that shows a lot of promise,’ Mr. Buttigieg said of a mileage-based tax on CNBC. ‘If we believe in that so-called user-pays principle — the idea that part of how we pay for roads is you pay based on how much you drive, the gas tax used to be the obvious way to do it,’ he continued. ‘It’s not anymore, so a so-called vehicle miles traveled tax or mileage tax, whatever you want to call it, could be a way to do it.’ ...
“The secretary said during his CNBC appearance that many options are being considered to fund the project, including the possible revival of Build America Bonds and creating a ‘national infrastructure bank.’”
Get this. Buttigieg argued that a gas tax no longer works because of the rapidly growing number of electric vehicles on the road. So, if the greenies who shell out top dollar for a battery-included, self-driving Tesla aren’t paying for gas, they’re saddling the poor schlep who opted for a powerful but noisy and dirty diesel pickup truck with paying the tax all by himself (well, or with everyone else who still believes in economical and relatively clean burning gasoline powered cars and trucks)!
In other words, electric vehicles supposedly help with the “existential threat” of climate change but don’t do a whole lot for the tax revenue hungry federal government’s bottom line. Plus, as everyone knows, there’re huge subsidies tied to electric vehicle production, and those enormous batteries are uncomfortably tied to China and rare earth materials, etc. So what’s more important, huh? Do we want citizens to buy electric cars and cool the atmosphere, or is it better to purchase lots of gallons at the gas station and therefore pump more dough into Uncle Sam’s britches?
Oh, the dilemma!
It's curious how liberals now seem fixated on usage-type fees because they’re about as regressive as taxes can possibly be. What about the single mom who must drive thirty miles each way to work or take her kid to school (post-COVID)? Or the wage-earning taxi or Uber driver? Or what about those who must commute to care for aging parents? The list goes on and on.
Besides, if Buttigieg, Biden and the federal government place a tax on mileage, it will greatly reduce the number of miles someone of limited means engages in. All non-essential driving will be cut to reduce the tax load. Less miles means less gas sold and the gas tax revenue will go down accordingly. It’s a little-known fact that the U.S. Treasury rakes in billions from the gas tax. So do state treasuries (you folks in California already realize this). States will thusly be affected as well.
Aside from its regressive nature, how would the feds hope to keep track of mileage on one’s car or truck? Would they mandate the installation of a “transponder” box on every vehicle to monitor the usage? How does everyone feel about the government tracking one’s whereabouts? If the old Alamo rental car commercial (which goes something like, “There are over four million miles of road in Alamo territory, and every one of them is free”) is true, then some bureaucrat has millions of miles of access to where you’re going and where you’ve been.
The practical and privacy issues are not minor and will most likely be the focal point of the political opposition. Beyond this, should the Democrats and Pete Buttigieg be pushing through another massive multi-trillion-dollar spending spree -- and is it even needed? Most everyone -- including former President Donald Trump -- agrees that massive infrastructure improvements are necessary.
Remember the highway bridge failure in Minnesota (2007)? I’m only surprised it doesn’t happen more often. Most of our infrastructure is decades old and in need of repair. Then there are the dilapidated airports, the electric grid, etc. It’s a mess. The American Society of Civil Engineers, for example, indicates trillions must be dedicated to rectify years of neglect.
But what Buttigieg, Biden and all the naysayers fail to mention is the federal budget already contains appropriations for road construction and maintenance. Otherwise, we wouldn’t see all the “Road Construction” and “Detour” signs everywhere we go. If the budget needs to be increased, that’s a job for our elected legislators to determine, not an under-forty political patronage-appointed (because he’s gay) hack former mayor of a medium-sized city to dictate.
Donald Trump, who’s been in real estate development all of his life, suggested some of the cost could be mitigated through public and private partnerships, something Democrats seemingly won’t even consider. They’re too afraid their public employee unions might be excluded from the process, as well as wrest some power and control out of their hands.
In the quota dependent liberal mindset, how do you achieve perfect “diversity” in hiring? What if there’re too many white dudes and not enough African-American transgender illegal immigrants?
If only two things in life are certain -- death and taxes -- then there’s no getting away from the taxman. But that doesn’t mean that taxes are fair -- or that everything should be taxed. The Biden administration’s proposal for a levy on the number of miles driven is a crazy idea. Even the Beatles would disapprove.
Tax on miles driven