Thursday, July 5, 2012

"Per Mile Car Tax"

In another attempt to tighten the noose around the necks of Americans 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, the White House, however, said the bill is only an early draft. “This is not an administration proposal," said White House spokeswoman. News of the draft 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, and that payment could take place electronically at filling stations.

The proposal seems to follow up on that idea in section 2218 of the draft bill. That section would create, within the Federal Highway Administration, a Surface Transportation Revenue Alternatives Office. It would be tasked with creating a "study framework that defines the functionality of a mileage-based user fee system and other systems." The idea is supported by some in Congress who say fuel taxes won't keep paying for roads much longer. Americans are burning less fuel as the economy struggles and vehicles are becoming more efficient, at the same time the cost of maintaining or building roads has continued to rise. Currently the U.S. government sends about $35 billion a year to states and local governments for building highways, about a fourth of their total road-building costs.

The plan that was floated creates a new government "office" that would be funded a total of $300 million through fiscal 2017. This project would also require that government be expanded, rather then merely raising the existing gasoline tax that might further reduce demand for oil and reduce Americas dependency on imported oil. Having to create more government to monitor and collect such a tax would be expensive and somewhat redundant. Cost to business would have to be passed through to consumers. Before finished such a bill might even go so far as to contain exemptions for the poor or those required to drive for say religious or educational reasons. It appears the goal of this bill would not be to reduce traffic congestion, reduce pollution, or promote healthy lifestyles, but rather to collect more tax dollars and extent the culture of wealth transfer.

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