Democrat Introduces Vehicle Miles Tax Bill

Earl Blumenenauer is fed up with legislative gridlock or something

(Politico) Rep. Earl Blumenauer has had enough.

With some of the top players in next year’s transportation bill stuck in a staring contest over how to raise billions of dollars, the Democrat introduced two simple bills on Wednesday to address what he calls the upcoming “infrastructure cliff.” (snip)

The other bill would let states look into charging drivers by the mile — a so-called vehicle miles traveled fee — by expanding a pilot program started in Blumenauer’s home state of Oregon. The program would be voluntary and allow states to choose how exactly to test the concept of charging for road use.

In short, his idea is the “big and bold” proposal that former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood had promised would come from the White House but so far has not materialized.

I’ve written before that I’m not against a vehicle mile tax (VMT). The changing landscape of vehicles, with more and more hybrids (which I like) and smattering of electric cars on the road, along with many pure gas vehicles that get excellent MPG, has reduced the inflow of tax money that supports the transportation infrastructure. But I have noted that it should replace the regular gas tax. Of course, not in Democrat World

One would raise the gas tax to 33.4 cents cents per gallon, nearly double the current rate of 18.4 cents, over the next few years. That bill would also peg the tax rate to inflation so that its purchasing power doesn’t decline over time.

Surprise! Blumenauer, like a good little Democrat, not only wants a dramatic increase in the gas tax, he wants both taxes. Of course, he couches the VMT in a cute way, by “allowing” states to experiment. Those run by Democrats will surely jump at the prospect of double taxation. Without doing away with their own state gas tax.

These bills are obviously going nowhere at this time. Even Obama wouldn’t allow a simple 5 cents increase in the gas tax. But, that was 2009. Dems might be willing to accept the VMT, though. The Republican led House won’t. This is a good view into the mind of a Liberal.

Crossed at Right Wing News.

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3 Responses to “Democrat Introduces Vehicle Miles Tax Bill”

  1. Future_Frozen_Gumballs says:

    I don’t like it. Another tax that the feds get to control and dispense to whomever they feel worthy. “You want road money? then pass\accept our rules for XXX.” Last time it was education mandates. Time before that it was Blood Alcohol Level. If it starts, it doesn’t stop.

    I say, put the tax on the tires. Or, do it as the Socialists do, put the tax upon the rubber production facilities. that way, the people buying the tires don’t have to pay it. (cough). Or place the tax upon the rubber tree plantations and the chemical companies that produce the fake rubber.

    Easy Peasy.

    But, why should we need to raise money for transportation? Didn’t they get like a ton of money over the last few years?

  2. gitarcarver says:

    I watched Blumenauer on Neil Cavuto the other day and Cavuto could not get Blumenauer to answer the basic question of where money from ga taxes are going now.

    It is an answer that Blumenauer doesn’t want to utter: it is going to things other than roads, bridges, etc.

    It is a money grab, pure and simple.

    However, another website asked about the cost of building a bridge in America after an article appeared in the Wall Street Journal highlighting costs.

    As the original article is behind a paywall, the group “Common Core” has a summary of the article which includes:

    Even projects with little or no environmental impact can take years. Raising the roadway of the Bayonne Bridge at the mouth of the Port of Newark, for example, requires no new foundations or right of way, and would not require approvals at all except that it spans navigable water. Raising the roadway would allow a new generation of efficient large ships into the port. But the project is now approaching its fifth year of legal process, bogged down in environmental litigation.

    A reader on the site points to another real life example of a replacement bridge spanning Lake Washington in Washington State:

    So far, taxpayers have paid more than $377 million on studies, planning, buying properties and a small amount of construction. Roughly $20 million has been spent on preparing for tolling. Citizens of Seattle chipped in more. Seattle spent another $1 million for additional studying. All of it totals to $398 million tax dollars spent so far.

    “It’s extraordinary!” said Mike Ennis, Washington Policy Center’s Transportation Expert. “The original bridge cost $34 million to build in 1963. Adjusting for inflation, in 2011 dollars, the existing bridge had a total cost of $245 million. They’ve already spent more in just planning and design than the cost of the original bridge structure. You have to ask yourself as a taxpayer, what are they doing to increase these costs?”

    The majority of the money has gone to a long list of consultants for engineering, project management and community relations. Consultants are not cheap. The state has paid nearly $7.7 million to one community relations firm, EnviroIssues, to gather public opinion and get the word out about 520.

    source:

    http://www.king5.com/news/investigators/Investigators-520-bridge-118221934.html

    A reader goes deeper into the numbers:

    Total cost is currently estimated at $4, 130 million (e.g. 4.13 Billion).

    So to summarize, bridge in the 1960′s, $245 million (inflation adjusted to 2011). Today, $4,130 million (2012 dollars). Over 16 times as much, INFLATION ADJUSTED. So, this begs the question, where is all the money going? The new bridge won’t be 16 times “better”, nor wider, nor with greater capacity.

    The federal government makes projects more expensive through regulations that serve no one. Other countries have learned from that but not the US:

    Canada requires full environmental review, with state and local input, but it has recently put a maximum of two years on major projects. Germany allocates decision-making authority to a particular state or federal agency: Getting approval for a large electrical platform in the North Sea, built this year, took 20 months; approval for the City Tunnel in Leipzig, scheduled to open next year, took 18 months. Neither country waits for years for a final decision to emerge out of endless red tape.

    source: previously cited Common Core article.

    Representative Blumenauer wants higher taxes because instead of looking at regulations and the efficiency of the process and results of building bridges, roads, etc, he only sees the supply side of the equation.

    He doesn’t want to make the government more efficient or to hold it accountable for inefficiency, but can only think of raising taxes.

  3. Future_Frozen_Gumballs says:

    DAMN STRAIGHT GC. I’m all for, as I’m sure most people alive are, environmental reviews\Impact Statements, but this never ending red tape and redo’s are killing this nation. See how long it has taken for a new nuclear plant to be built?!? Even environmentally friendly natural gas plants take forever and are under attack.

    I say, new rules
    1) Max time for an Impact Statement\Review – 9 months
    2) Max Time for public\professional review – 9 months and the gov’t must respond to comments.
    3) If anyone files suit against the project only after step 2, then all suits must be be held at same time and adjudicated at the same time.
    4) A review will be conducted 3 years after project completion (or 5 years after review of step 2 issued)
    5) Repeat step 2.
    6) Continue to repeat. If a project is deemed to later cause undo harm, based upon\compared to initial findings, then the project can be paused for refit, or cancelled. A project can not be held retro-active responsible for newly enacted laws.

    And, make losing suits pay. no more of this gov’t pays expenses of ALL suing parties. And expenses will be the national average – not local average.

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