As former governor of Virginia, I won election on a promise, among other ones, to phase out the Commonwealth’s despised car tax levied on citizens for merely owning cars and trucks for which they have paid abundant sales tax and continue to pay abundant tax for fuel. This resonated powerfully with citizens who need their cars and trucks for their livelihoods and who feel like they never truly own their vehicles.
But the report of taxing the miles we drive is sadly all too plausible, and has the feel of a proposal that has been given some time and thought. It originates, of course, from a capital city still fixated in a mindset that enables an administration and Congress to continue out-of-control and reckless taxing and spending while our nation’s debt problem has us on the brink of economic crisis.
Let me be fair and clear: There is no argument among reasonable people that we urgently need more and better transportation infrastructure. At Free Congress Foundation and our Center For Transportation, we also think that the government has a legitimate and appropriate role in financing and developing not just highways, but mass transit, rails, water ports and airports. Citizens expect government to plan for and build these facilities to enable people to get to their jobs, and to enable the movement of goods and freight.
Responsibly upgrading and expanding our transportation system, including highways, will be a critical ingredient for U.S. growth and global competitiveness when we are able to move beyond the current crisis. And many viable methods to raise the funds are at government's disposal without infringing on freedom of mobility.
But considering a per-mile highway user tax on the mileage we log in the course of living our daily lives is a wreck that needs to be avoided. Let’s hope wiser, cooler heads in both Congress and the administration stop this bad idea for good.