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Transportation Secretary LaHood Mulling Tax On Miles Driven


Obama's new Transportation Secretary, Republican Ray LaHood, is eying a tax based on miles driven as opposed to fuel consumed. Why the potential switch? America's relatively low gasoline taxes just can't cut it when it comes to Federal funding for upkeep of American roadways and transportation infrastructure.

Recent - and in some cases fatal - bridge collapses and roadway disasters highlight the issue facing the new administration's Transportation division. Last fall, Congress had to infuse $8 billion into multiple states to help them with their most urgent transportation projects. But while many transportation authorities view the proposed per-mile-traveled tax as an intelligent long-term strategy, drivers in some affected states aren't having it. And LaHood refuses to consider higher gasoline taxes in the midst of our current econimic crisis.

Edmund Pettus Bridge

Edmund Pettus Bridge

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Governors in Idaho and Rhode Island are considering the per-mile tax. A group in North Carolina wants to substitute the new tax for gas taxes altogether. And a Massachusetts strategy that would implement vehicular GPS chips to track miles driven has some citizens outraged at governmental intrusion right into their personal vehicles.

With the inevitability of rising gas costs, and people's incomes and dividend checks shrinking (or disappearing), could a travel tax result in a swift reversal of the flight to the suburbs? Will in-town living make a future America resemble bustling European city centers that rely more on public transportation than the automobile?

High European gasoline taxes that have been largely responsible for the profusion of efficient vehicles in that country are more appealing to me; such a system seems more equitable and easier to enforce. Regardless, you can be sure that if the GPS-based scheme goes into practice, an entire cottage industry of car computer hackers will spring up overnight.

[source: Detroit Free Press]

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Comments (6)
  1. "Could they be pulling the old switcharoo"

    Wouldn't even need to hack the computer, just remove the GPS unit and leave it plugged in in your garage.
    Trying to install GPS units in all cars seems so idiotic I wonder if they are just proposing this so we accept a fuel or carbon tax as the more "sensible" solution.
     
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  2. "..But who can trust politicians?"

    I think a bigger gas tax is reasonable, but only on the condition that politicians cannot "reallocate" these funds when budgets get tight (as they do from time to time). Congress can scold and berate us for not buying these upcoming electric and hybrid cars, but unless gas prices reach at least $4/gallon we aren't going to get off the fence and buy one (in significant numbers) any time soon.
     
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  3. "Tax vs Big Brother"

    Tom L might have a point, and one I hope comes true: our fuel is plenty cheap, no matter how you look at it. I have no problem paying more for fuel, if the taxes are used for road/infrastructure (like the hydrogen or biodiesel plans 'they' have talked about). I have a big problem with the big brother aspect, as the ability to know how much I've driven means they know where and how I've driven, fourth and fifth amendments notwithstanding.
     
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  4. "Dumb idea"

    On the one hand the Government is pushing people into reducing fuel consumption but then they realise, oops this means we get less tax dollars, hey why don't we tax miles driven. Great, why the hell buy some pidly fuel mizer when you get taxed on miles driven not consumption. may as well enjoy the lower amount driven by driving something sporty. Do they want to promote better fuel ecopnomy or not? Don't think they have a clue.
    Next you will see not just tracking your miles but the speed you did, instead of speed camera's they can check your speed and where you were against the speed limit and automatically ping you for every time you go over the speed limit. That way they may not need to tax people as they will be reaping in fines like nothing else.
     
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  5. "I want this tax badly"

    I have no issues regarding "Big Brother" knowing my mileage - I am an honest citizen; I have noting to hide.
    I am concerned about effect on our economy:
    * Cinema? Watch something OnDemand.
    * Pizza Dinner? Eat frozen sh!t.
    * Play Date for children? Text Messaging and IM.
    On one hand, they're trying to come up with a package to stimulate new car purchase. On the other hand, they are making more difficult to drive a new car. And why do I even need a new car? I am not going be driving much.
    Not to mention the horrible state of public transportation...
     
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  6. This tax is going to pay the federal reserve for the money we gave to the banks as t.a.r.p that they loaned back to us with interest for the stimulus so they can buy out whats left over of independent financial companies. This is the interest. The real carbon reduction will come from the starving people who can't afford food or shelter that die off from this bill. Change you can believe in!
     
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