The PJ Tatler

Obama floating plan to tax you by the mile (Update: White House denies)

Do you want to know what can kill the bin Laden bump in a New York minute? How about a plan to tax you and every other American by the miles you drive, coming from the Obama administration.


The Obama administration has floated a transportation authorization bill that would require the study and implementation of a plan to tax automobile drivers based on how many miles they drive.

The plan is a part of the administration’s “Transportation Opportunities Act,” an undated draft of which was obtained this week by Transportation Weekly.

This follows a March Congressional Budget Office report that supported the idea of taxing drivers based on miles driven.Among other things, CBO suggested that a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) tax could be tracked by installing electronic equipment on each car to determine how many miles were driven; payment could take place electronically at filling stations.

How very efficient! And convenient! But the CBO’s plan overlooks a key fact: We’re already being taxed for every mile we drive, in the form of federal, state and in some cases local gas taxes. This new tax would presumably be overlaid on those taxes, which in some states are already very high. And for the most part, the highest taxed states are in the worse financial shape.

This tax would damage the weak economy, making it more expensive to move goods and get to our jobs, while doing nothing to rein in government spending. And while it’s some comfort to think that this idea would never get past the GOP-controlled House, that might not stop the Regulator in Chief. He’s creative at finding ways around the messiness of the democratic process.


The obvious economic damage this tax would do doesn’t even seem on the administration’s mind:

The draft bill says the “study framework” for the project and a public awareness communications plan should be established within two years of creating the office, and that field tests should begin within four years.

The office would be required to consider four factors in field trials: the capability of states to enforce payment, the reliability of technology, administrative costs, and “user acceptance.” The draft does not specify where field trials should begin.

Update: The Hill has revised and extended its story about this, adding in this denial from the White House that wasn’t in the story when it was originally posted.

“This is not an administration proposal,” White House spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said. “This is not a bill supported by the administration. This was an early working draft proposal that was never formally circulated within the administration, does not taken into account the advice of the president’s senior advisers, economic team or Cabinet officials, and does not represent the views of the president.”

Good to hear. Now let’s keep an eye on them and make sure they don’t try sneaking it through anyway.

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