Obama Says NO to LaHood's MILEAGE TAX

Update [2009-2-20 13:58:6 by Pravin]:I changed the title of this diary after reading a report linked to at the end of this diary where the Obama administration has nixed this silly idea.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/02/20 /mileage-tax-considered-by_n_168506.html

Ray LaHood, the Transportation Secretary wants to enact a mileage tax to make up for the loss of revenue on the gas tax. Hey, here  is an idea! Increase the gas taxes instead. Why are we punishing those who drive a lot but use energy efficient cars?

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says he wants to consider taxing motorists based on how many miles they drive rather than how much gasoline they burn _ an idea that has angered drivers in some states where it has been proposed.

Gasoline taxes that for nearly half a century have paid for the federal share of highway and bridge construction can no longer be counted on to raise enough money to keep the nation's transportation system moving, LaHood said in an interview with The Associated Press.

"We should look at the vehicular miles program where people are actually clocked on the number of miles that they traveled," the former Illinois Republican lawmaker said.

Plus, the way they want to implement this sounds intrusive to me. As a liberal libertarian, I feel it is not the government's business to track how many miles I drive a year.

A tentative plan in Massachusetts to use GPS chips in vehicles to charge motorists by the mile has drawn complaints from drivers who say it's an Orwellian intrusion by government into the lives of citizens. Other motorists say it eliminates an incentive to drive more fuel-efficient cars since gas guzzlers will be taxed at the same rate as fuel sippers.

Besides a VMT tax, more tolls for highways and bridges and more government partnerships with business to finance transportation projects are other funding options, LaHood, one of two Republicans in President Barack Obama's Cabinet, said in the interview Thursday.

Great, so much for a Republican in an Obama cabinet. He is more taxhungry than a stereotypical Democrat.

You want to save money - stop bailing out rich companies! Increase gas taxes a little more if you have to. That will collect taxes at the Point of Sale instead of putting a monitoring device in my car. It will force people to look for more energy efficient cars the free market way instead of taxing miles driven.  That will generate more revenues.

P.S.: For the record, I have an Infiniti G35. I get 20mpg in my regular driving. I like to drive fast and am prepared to pay for my extra gas consumption which a mileage tax doesn't take into account. So this is not about my personal gain. at the same time, I anticipate red lights and rarely have to brake. I turn my car off if I have a lengthy wait in a long drivethru line and move my car only when two cars advance. If I stop at a just turned red light and anticipate a 2 minute wait , sometimes I will turn the engine off, keeping the radio on. A mileage tax won't take such habits into consideration. Update [2009-2-20 13:58:6 by Pravin]: HAIL OBAMA! His adminstration has struck down this ridiculous proposal. He saved the Democrats from becoming a laughable stereotype even if the idea was originated by a Republican. Speaking of Republicans, if Obama is going to cross the aisle to appoint Republicans, why not appoint the brightest? Why settle for these kind of people? Stick with Democrats unless exceptional people from the other side are available. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/first100days/2009/02/20/transportation-chief-considers-taxing-miles-driven/

Tags: mileage tax obama (all tags)




OK I have a question. Say we increase the gas tax aren't many of the same people who would pay more based on mileage still going to pay more because they buy more gas?

Next I already download information to states about my driving habits. I have an EZPass. I'm not sure I see much difference. And why couldn't the system be designed, as the article states, that heavier, less efficient vehicles be charged more than say hybrids or other fuel efficient vehicles.

Finally, couldn't this system promote people to use more mass transit to reduce their tax burden?

Ok I am done playing the devil's advocate have at me.

by jsfox 2009-02-20 05:19AM | 0 recs

My response:

1. The gas tax is already in place. Raising it requires no new infrastructure or bureaucracy. A mileage tax would be much more costly to implement.

2. There is no #2. This should be a no-brainer. The privacy considerations make the proposal even worse.

by pneuma 2009-02-20 05:34AM | 0 recs

Your privacy is already lost the minute you pay for your gas with a credit card. The minute you go through a toll and a picture is taken of you and your car.

Also, I don't know about you, but when I pay for gas I don't think about the tax. I'm just thinking about the overall cost. However, if I were to get a separate tax receipt or bill I might seriously think about ways in which I might lower my tax. Get a more efficient vehicle, take mass transit, car pool.

The one thing I will say is that if such a system were to implemented it would have to be designed so that you were rewarded with a lower tax for driving a more fuel efficient vehicle.

by jsfox 2009-02-20 05:59AM | 0 recs
You can pay your gas with cash.
Besides, when gas is more expensive, you will have more of a tendency to seek out a more energy efficient car or drive more efficiently or both. A mileage tax doesn't do either. It is purely a revenue seeking tax. A Gas tax serves both to get revenue and encourage energy efficiency.
by Pravin 2009-02-20 06:03AM | 0 recs

A mileage tax would encourage us to live and work closer together, which would reduce our overall energy consumption as well.

by mikes101 2009-02-21 11:15AM | 0 recs

I don't want to see variable taxing for energy efficient cars versus SUVs because then that will

  1. introduce unnecessary complexity into the system
  2. it does nothing to reward those who drive efficiently. Driving habits matter too. Someone who buys a civic but brakes too often, leave their car idling too long in drivethrus, etc. shouldn't get a break versus a driver with a maxima who is a much more efficient driver.

A gas tax is simple and taxes only the gas you use. Very straightforward. And it does not track exactly how much you drive.

An EZ pass is voluntary when it can be used. People can elect to pay cash at the tollbooth those times they do not want to be tracked.

by Pravin 2009-02-20 05:50AM | 0 recs

As I said I am playing devil's advocate here. Also see my sig line :)

by jsfox 2009-02-20 06:01AM | 0 recs

Definitely, please do. I encourage Devil's advocate approach because it forces us to refine our arguments. No problem.

by Pravin 2009-02-20 06:04AM | 0 recs

I'll wait for the actual proposal, if one ever materializes.  There are at least two goals with any such tax: 1) pay for wear and tear to the roads; and 2) create incentives for fuel efficiency.  Neither a straight mileage tax nor a straight gasoline tax addresses both issues directly.  Therefore, I assume that any such proposal would be a hybrid tax.  

Also, the charge that efforts to collect such a tax would be Orwellian seem overblown to me.  We live in the age of OnStar, EZ Pass, and onboard GPS navigation.  People are more trackable than ever before, entirely by choice.  And, we are not talking about the government tracking one's every movement - we are talking about a system that merely counts one's mileage, much like the power company's monitor generically tracks one's power consumption.

by rfahey22 2009-02-20 06:26AM | 0 recs

Choice is the key word here. With EZ pass and gas purchases, i have a choice to be tracked or not.
The wear and tear argument is bogus via the method of payment. How about  giving people pedimeters and charging them a sidewalk tax?

Besides, how does a mileage tax even remotely encourage efficiency? Plus an additional tax is needlessly complicating the tax system further. What we don't need is another tax on top of the many taxes we are burdened with.

Granted, the orwellian portion is not as major as it can made out to be. But considering it is totally unnecessary, I find it needlessly intrusive. There is always a compromise with benefits versus losing privacy. The losing privacy factor is not major. But the benefits to this is zero. A gas tax already achieves this. Just increase it if you want to. I do not need two taxes to achieve what one can.

by Pravin 2009-02-20 06:40AM | 0 recs
Did an incorrect edit in the first para:
this is how it should read:
Choice is the key word here. With EZ pass and gas purchases, i have a choice to be tracked or not via the method of payment.
The wear and tear argument is bogus . How about  giving people pedimeters and charging them a sidewalk tax?
by Pravin 2009-02-20 06:41AM | 0 recs

Perhaps it is all a brilliant piece of ju-jitsu in order to make people more content with a gas tax increase when it comes, cause at least it doesn't suck as much as a mileage tax.  Or maybe this is why we put a Republican in the Cabinet so we can give him ownership of a dumb idea.  I'm truly unable to grasp what supposedly makes a mileage tax superior to a gas tax.

And yes, there will be an awful lot of people who object to the government tracking their driving habits.  I don't think it's politically feasible at all.  It's weird that we live in a country where people will shrug at warrantless wiretapping, and yet object to collection of their mileage records, but that's the way it is.

by Steve M 2009-02-20 07:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Says NO to LaHood's MILEAGE TAX

I didn't think it was a practical idea and I agree that it would punish those who drive energy efficient cars, but I sort of understood the logic:

Use more of the road, pay for more of the road.

by Bush Bites 2009-02-20 12:42PM | 0 recs
How would you implement such an idea?

by ann0nymous 2009-02-20 05:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Says NO to LaHood's MILEAGE TAX

A mileage based tax makes sense on one level.  It pays for the use and wear and tear on the highways.   But it is not entirely efficient because heavier vehicles cause more wear and tear per mile.  One problem with such a tax is that it doesn't cover negative environmental externalities associated with consuming more gasoline.   The more gasoline a vehicle consumers the larger the carbon footprint, etc.   So rationally you would want some kind of gas tax and mileage tax to get a truly economically efficient outcome.  

However, the privacy issue is a cost.  Those who try to compare it to paying for gas by credit card or to crossing a bridge using a fastpass are missing the point.   There is a large difference of being tracked at one point at one point in time than being tracked every place you drive.  It's not even comparable.   Not to mention the political dimension of this.  It smacks of big brotherism.    

Obama is right to say no to this.

by StrangeAnomaly 2009-02-21 02:34AM | 0 recs


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