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.
His language might be brutal, but it is logical. The point he was making is that it is rational to allocate pollution to countries in which it will not have a negative effect on the population and would potentially increase jobs. A country where the life expectancy is, say, 50 years would not be terribly concerned about pollution which may increase the risk of death at age 70. On the other hand, exporting that "dirty business" to such a country may, over time and together with other industries, provide wages which can improve the standard of living and thereby increase life expectancies to a point at which the country at issue would itself seek to export the "dirty business" to yet another country.
You might disagree with the premise that only rich countries are concerned about a clean environment, but it is debatable. Certainly very few people actually address the content of that analysis and instead conjure up the image of evil polluters to confuse the issue. There are few clean options for countries to lift themselves out of poverty, as our own history shows.
Vermont's total budget is on the scale of $5 billion or so. HHS has a budget of over $700 billion. Additionally, it competes with other federal agencies for appropriations and to pass favorable legislation. So no, I don't think the comparison is apt.
He might be qualified, but the fact that he's a doctor and an ex-governor is not sufficient.
Someone can't just be appointed to HHS because s/he is a swell guy. I like Dean as much as the next person and I agree that he has contributed mightily to the Democratic cause, but he may not be qualified to run a sprawling federal agency.