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Mileage tax should be opposed

By Staff | Mar 13, 2009

President Barack Obama’s administration is all about “green” initiatives, right?

Wrong, as U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood made clear recently.

Obama and his aides have said repeatedly that a critical change Americans need to make is to begin driving more fuel-efficient vehicles. One might think that the government’s policy would be to do what it can to encourage such behavior.

But LaHood said recently that he wants to consider a change in federal taxes on vehicle fuel. Instead of charging taxes based on the number of gallons of fuel used, LaHood thinks it might be a good idea to tax Americans based on the number of miles they drive.

Several states are considering the same thing. Their officials, like LaHood, have noted that Americans are driving less, and using less fuel. In addition, some are buying more fuel-efficient cars and trucks. They use less fuel – and that means less revenue for states and the federal government from a per-gallon tax.

A miles-traveled tax would bring in more money, proponents say.

But it would act as a disincentive for drivers to purchase more fuel-efficient vehicles. Certainly, they would save some money on fuel – but not on taxes. In fact, under a miles-traveled tax, they could pay more than they do now.

There are other criticisms of a miles-traveled tax, some involving privacy rights. How would government monitor miles traveled? With GPS devices telling someone in Washington precisely where we go in our cars and trucks?

LaHood’s comment is just another example of the hypocrisy that often seems to rule in Washington. Americans have a right to wonder just how “green” the Obama administration is.

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