Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg floated a “vehicle miles” tax Friday to pay for a likely $3 trillion infrastructure spending extravaganza.
Speaking to CNBC, Buttigieg claimed, “President Joe Biden’s forthcoming plans to rebuild the nation’s roads, bridges and waterways would lead to a net gain for the U.S. taxpayer and not a net outlay,” the network reported.
“When you think about infrastructure, it’s a classic example of the kind of investment that has a return on that investment,” the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor said.
“That’s one of many reasons why we think this is so important. This is a jobs vision as much as it is an infrastructure vision, a climate vision and more.”
Breitbart News reported Buttigieg views his job not simply as roads and railways, but as an outpost in the culture wars. In February, Buttigieg said he was going to tackle “systemic racism” from his position.
A vehicle miles tax would cost drivers based on how far they drive, not how much gasoline is consumed.
“A so-called vehicle-miles-traveled tax or mileage tax, whatever you want to call it, could be a way to do it,” he said of the possibility of generating revenue to pay for the impending spending proposals.
It is not clear whether a vehicle miles tax would replace the federal gas tax or be in addition to it. Buttigieg also did not say if certain vehicles Democrats prefer would be exempt.
“I’m hearing a lot of appetite to make sure that there are sustainable funding streams,” he told CNBC.
A mileage tax “shows a lot of promise 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.”
According to Yahoo, Buttigieg intends to use the spending proposal to “boost his own brand.”
“He gets to be Build Back Better,” an anonymous former presidential campaign staffer told Yahoo, referring to Biden’s campaign slogan.
“He gets blank checks. He can tie himself to feel-good projects coming out of the administration,” the former staffer added.
Yahoo noted the spending plan also affords Buttigieg the opportunity to travel the country and introduce himself “to prospective voters, and tout those aforementioned feel-good projects to media both national and local.”