OPINION | This article contains political commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said today that the Biden Administration is considering taxing drivers for the miles they drive in order to fund infrastructure.
A mileage-based tax shows a lot of promise, @SecretaryPete says about funding President Biden’s infrastructure package. Revenue generation will most likely come from several different sources. “We’ve got to think big; it’s got to be transformative.” https://t.co/QY1JvWXXOA pic.twitter.com/4R2CD6KaZV
— CNBC (@CNBC) March 26, 2021
During President Biden’s first solo press conference, which was really just a semi-coherent regurgitation of a scripted list of answers to a predetermined series of questions from pre-approved reporters, he announced a $3 trillion infrastructure spending proposal. Now we find out that one way Biden plans on funding that $3 trillion plan is with a new tax on the miles you drive.
According to Buttigieg,
“If we believe in that so-called user-pays principle, the idea that part of how we pay for roads is you pay based on how much you drive.”
As I’m considering the impact of this mileage tax, I can’t help but think that the tax will disproportionately affect rural conservative Americans.
Here’s my thought process.
Residents of major cities, which are heavily Blue areas, have widespread access to public transportation like busses, trams, and subways. Many residents of these major cities don’t own a car and some don’t even know how to drive. They’ve never needed to and never will need to because they’ll always use their local big city public transportation, or simply walk. So they won’t be contributing to the mileage tax.
But millions of Americans have to commute. They are generally the Americans who have to drive everywhere and are the ones who will be impacted by the mileage tax. They are also the Americans who predominantly live in suburbs and rural areas of the country, which also happen to be predominantly Red areas.
So, whether intended or not, more conservatives will probably be impacted by the mileage tax than liberals. Which begs the question, will the money collected from the mileage tax be used on infrastructure that will directly benefit those same conservatives who are disproportionately contributing to it? Or will it be used in those big Blue cities and disproportionately benefit the non-driving big city residents who didn’t contribute to the mileage tax?
I can’t help but think about my own family. My dad spends several hours every week in his truck commuting around our rural area for work. In fact, literally everything my family does requires miles of driving. 20 mile drive to the grocery store. 20 mile drive to the doctor. 30 mile drive to sports practices and up to 80 mile drive for sports games or competitions. 15 mile drive to church for services and youth activities. There’s no alternative. Every single task, every single day requires miles of driving.
So will the money that my family and other rural conservative commuting Americans contribute through the mileage tax actually be used on things that directly benefit them in their more rural communities? Or will the crumbling and mismanaged big Blue cities use the mileage tax money to repair their long-neglected infrastructure, which the rural commuting conservative Americans will perhaps never have occasion to use?