White House Considering Taxing You For Every Mile You Drive

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on Friday that, among the avenues on the table being considered to help pay for a massive infrastructure proposal, is the possibility of vehicle mileage tax.

Since the passage of the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill, there has been talk of a multi-trillion spending plan for infrastructure

Buttigieg said, “When you think about infrastructure, it’s a classic example of the kind of investment that has a return on that investment. 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.”

One of the ways to pay for it could be to tax drivers for every mile they drive. 

“A so-called vehicle-miles-traveled tax or mileage tax, whatever you want to call it, could be a way to do it,” Buttigieg said.

“I’m hearing a lot of appetite to make sure that there are sustainable funding streams.” 

Biden will travel to Pittsburgh next week to lay out what is expected to be a $3 to $4 trillion proposal. He stated during his first press conference on Thursday that infrastructure, “both physical and technological,” would be his next major initiative

RELATED: Congressional Democrats Have No Business Dictating State Tax Policy

Biden’s Infrastructure Plan

Biden’s infrastructure plan could include, according to Business Insider:

  • Clean energy deployment and the development of 5G
  • Rural broadband
  • One million “affordable and energy-efficient” housing units
  • $1 trillion in spending on roads, bridges, electric vehicles, rail lines, and improvements to the grid.

RELATED: When It Comes To Election ‘Reforms,’ The Left Are The Ones Busting Norms

Build America Bonds?

Another possible funding source Buttigieg and the President might be looking at is an Obama-era idea called Build America Bonds.

Per CNBC, these are a special class of municipal bonds where the interest costs are subsidized by the U.S. Treasury. 

The federal government used these in the 2008 bailout era, and phased them out in 2010.

Buttigieg also mentioned the idea of a national infrastructure bank.

RELATED: Mitt Romney Is Awarded JFK ‘Profile In Courage Award’ For Impeachment Vote

Mileage Tax Pros And Cons

When it comes to pros and cons, there are a few of each.

For some, this type of use-tax is more fair. After all, those who use a resource most should pay more for it, right?

A mileage tax would also bring electric vehicle drivers into the mix, since those vehicles do not pay into the highway trust fund.

On the con side, many Americans don’t want the government to track a driver’s whereabouts and movements

There’s also questions of fairness. Should people be punished if they live further away from their work? 

And even for those on the right who prefer use-taxes (as opposed to general levies, which are paid even if an individual doesn’t partake in the associated services), the question may be one of federalism. 

One could prefer a state-based use tax – after all, then the funds go to the roads in their state. But is there any guarantee the federal government will use the revenue fairly, or will some areas receive more benefits and others are left high and dry?

Another maybe not so readily seen consequence, COVID-19 has proven to a lot of employers that their employees can work from home. At a time when Americans are getting vaccinated and feel safe to leave their homes to physically go to a job, school, etc., a mileage tax might have many people rethinking work-from-home as an alternative to paying to drive.

This can also be a pro argument for environmental advocates. Generally, if you want less of something, you tax it. If you tax travel, you will get less of it. That means less vehicle exhaust. 

In his comments to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Buttigieg said, “There is near-universal recognition that a broader recovery will require a national commitment to fix and transform America’s infrastructure.” 

What do you think?

POLL: Which would you prefer - a Mileage Tax, or the current Gas Tax?

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Community Spotlight: How are you helping to build back better?

We Rescue Rangers know the Community has broad interests, but you surprised me this week by going big for two rescued stories covering subjects not remotely associated with current news and politics. Previously, I’d exclaimed that Community stories can offer “refuge from politics,” but that referenced nature, more commonly considered a haven away from troubling news. This week, however, the Community found an atypical refuge in … classical literature!

With another impeachment behind us, leaving a residue of widespread dissatisfaction, governance still holds our attention, as do climate change and COVID-19. In addition to this week’s focus on Beowulf and Shakespeare, the Daily Kos Community has turned back to more enduring concerns, including the need to hold legislators accountable and to empower voters. One of my volunteer projects does both and takes an hour of my online work per week.

I’ll tell you more about this project next Saturday, because this week, I’d like to hear about your volunteer involvement. Has the pandemic changed how your project operates? Did you work on candidate campaigns in the last election and, once those wrapped up, shift to new ventures? Are you still writing postcards to voters? I’m interested in hearing about all kinds of volunteer efforts, not just the political ones. The pandemic has expanded the need for ongoing efforts, like food banks and created new needs, such as testing and vaccine clinics. The Daily Kos Community comprises varied talents and expertise, so I’m sure some members are involved in projects new to many of us. Expand our world by sharing your enthusiasm in the comments, and, if your project needs more helpers, add a volunteer sign up link.

Half of the 16 stories we featured this week are first time rescues, including two writers who joined and wrote their first stories the same day. One such story, about Shakespeare, had 22 Recs Wed. at 8 p.m. and, 24 hours later, had 188 recs and 439 comments. As an illustration of our Community’s diversity of knowledge, another new member joined the next day and wrote their first story describing the municipal water delivery infrastructure, and how system flaws result in devastating problems, such as the debacle in Texas. The week’s most recommended rescued story, with over 200 recs, is a deeply personal essay describing the author’s realization that their husband is a narcissist. 

16 Rescued Stories from 4 p.m. EST Friday Feb. 12 to 4 p.m. EST Friday Feb. 19, 2021

Community Spotlight’s Rescue Rangers read every story published by Community writers. When we discover awesome work that isn’t receiving the attention it deserves, we rescue it to our group blog and publish a weekly collection—like this one—each Saturday. Rescue priorities and actions were explained in a previous edition: Community Spotlight: Rescuing your excellent stories for over 14 years. You also can find a link in Meteor Blades’ “Night Owls” series, which publishes daily between 10-11PM EST.

In Myth of the middle—Jeep Super Bowl, Grey Panther explores the high-profile Bruce Springsteen Super Bowl ad for Jeep that, the author claims, perpetrates a false stereotype of the average American as a “wandering soul searching for a middle ground, a geographic middle.” Grey Panther demolishes this myth using their personal experiences of “middle America,” then promotes their view of what constitutes the average American. “I have found a little bit to worship in every place and person I’ve encountered. I have loved the preserved sites of the First Peoples, the Civil War, and natural habitats. There are too few of them. I slide through America on my solo journeys, becoming more in touch with my humanity.” Grey Panther joined in 2008 and has written 89 stories, with 12 rescued.

The circus comes to town by ViewFromSpace re-examines the first two weeks after Trump’s 2017 inauguration to evaluate if his actions were as awful as we anticipated. Not a spoiler—they were worse. “The term ‘outrage fatigue’ predated the Trump administration, but seemed custom designed to describe it. Trump packed more scandal into his first two weeks than most presidents achieve in eight years. Nothing about the Trump presidency was normal and it’s important that we reflect on just how abnormal it really was.” ViewFromSpace joined in 2020 and has written three stories. This is their first rescue.

DrMarmot traces the processes climate change kicked into action and the traits of bat biology that, together, could result in the emergence of a novel pathogen such as COVID-19 in Bats, bushmeat and viruses: How climate disruption helped create COVID-19. Ecosystem disruptions reverberate through nature, affecting species distributions and migration, until infected animals connect with humans in wildlife markets. “The study found that this climate-induced chain reaction of floral change driving faunal change driving viral biodiversity ‘may have played a key role in the evolution or transmission of the two SARS CoVs’...Though bats are the source for many coronaviruses, they are not responsible for the pandemic. People are.” DrMarmot joined in 2017 and has written 10 stories, with four rescued—two of them this week.

The search for truth part 2 by Casual Observer 2 asks “(H)ow does a normal human being separate wheat from chaff, sheep from goats? This question gets at the heart of what I think is the key crisis in our country (if not the world) right now: ’What information do I believe is reliable and why do I believe that it is reliable?’” They compare a few approaches to finding the truth, one over 2,500 years old, noting differences and similarities. Casual Observer 2 joined in 2016 and has written two stories. This is their first rescue.

Winifred3 started quilting six years ago, after many years of embroidery, and she has learned that embroidery is an "integral aspect" of quilting. She now adds blocks of embroidery to her quilts, as shown in her beautiful illustrations in DK Quilt Guild: quilt blocks with embroidery. Winifred3 joined in 2010 and has written 124 stories. We also rescued her photo story showing Christmas quilts last month.

Bet you’ve never heard of the 1954 film Salt of the Earth.  Random82 tells us about this hidden, entertaining gem in Labor film of the week. It was financed by a union, and used only a handful of professional actors, while the rest were played by local union members and their families. The film, available on YouTube, gives an uncompromising view of the Empire Zinc Miners Strike in New Mexico. Random82 has been a member since Sept. 2020 and has written seven diaries. This is their first rescue.

As the climate crisis worsened during his tenure, Trump went out of his way to help. Not to help the climate, of course, but to help his industry-connected friends, donors and supporters. One of his most egregious decisions was the appointment of Scott Pruitt to head up the Environmental Protection Agency. Like so many of Trump’s cabinet appointments, Pruitt decided that instead of shutting down the agency, there was more money to be made by reversing its mission. In Trump considered abolishing the EPA, DrMarmot takes us back to the Pruitt era and the mountain of challenges that he left for President Biden. This is the author’s second rescue this week.

Daverhagen reminisces about memories and what elements combine to create them in Losing touch during COVID-19 hibernation. Staged events, like Woodstock, “birth a myth...notable for creating a community of strangers. A community of the moment. Other events are only personally memorable but hold consequence for us.” The author contemplates what we are missing during the pandemic’s forced isolation from friends, family, and society. “(W)hat happens to love in a world where people’s touch is imprisoned by fears? The embrace of one’s extended family, the fraternal as well as the familial, speaks a language beyond the limitation of our words. It may not be recognized as such, but touch is a language universal.” Daverhagen joined in 2019 and has written six stories, with three rescued.

Using references my English teacher snubbed, DrLori makes Beowulf pleasurable by taking readers deeper into the poem inflicted on us in high school. In The Language of the Night: Beowulf after Tolkien, she examines scholarship “around Beowulf, the Ur-Daddy of English Literature” beginning with “J.R.R. Tolkien’s all-important essay, Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics, which, in addition to showcasing Prof. Tolkien’s dry brand of snark, turned the study of Old English in general, and Beowulf in particular, on its head.” DrLori joined in 2010, and has written 220 stories, with 111 rescued.

In A look at the school re-opening plan set forth by the Biden CDC, bilboteach analyzes the administration’s efforts to get kids, teachers, and staff back into classrooms by the end of April. The pod approach, masking, and funding are the most critical and detailed plan sections. Less robust areas of the CDC plan include minimal suggestions on proper classroom ventilation and no requirement that all staff is vaccinated. “The good news is if pods are done correctly, and the system is in place correctly, a LOT of the concerns I raised six weeks ago are alleviated.” Bilboteach joined in December 2020 and has written 15 diaries, with five rescued.

Fragmented fairytale: Waking up to my life with a narcissistic husband is BootsyVixx’s personal manifesto of freedom from an abusive narcissist. The author describes her growing realization that the person who should be there to support her above all else is actually the one who has been holding her back. “Maybe it was the new environment, or maybe we were thrown together everyday but I started to see … how weak he really is. Huge ego. Self-absorbed. Chronically angry and impossible to please. Blames others for situations he creates. Takes care of his own needs. Just … totally … unilateral in vision.” BootsyVixx joined in 2020 and has written 13 stories. This is their first rescue.

The TRUTH about Shakespeare by new member spadeandarcher takes us out of our worries about COVID-19 and snowstorms into a lively discussion of their passion for Shakespeare. What makes Shakespeare so great, the author asserts, isn't whether he was or wasn't the person we think he was, or that he wrote about kings, queens and princes, but that he takes those characters and makes them come alive in a way that embeds them in our hearts and souls. Thus the author’s truth: Shakespeare is no more or less than "the birthright of every human being on this planet, he is for all mankind for all time." Spadeandarcher joined and published their first story on Feb. 17.

Shackman333, another new member, takes readers on a journey into the “exciting” world of city infrastructure. Burst pipes, pipe bursting, and the American water crisis: Part one explains water main breaks, water loss rate, and cycle time. The reason you probably haven’t ever heard about the health of a municipal water system, except perhaps for Flint, Michigan, is that the infrastructure is out of sight, out of mind (underground) until a problem forces us to look. Shackman333 provides an accessible look at municipal water issues and maintenance choices that drive failure in systems with inadequate repair budgets. “Many cities East of the Mississippi still have wood pipe in service. Wood. Wood water pipe. New wood pipe hasn’t been installed since the late 1800s. Do you think that pipe leaks?” Shackman333 joined and wrote their first story on Feb. 18.

Bill in Waco Texas asks, “Did you ever have an experience that didn’t really register with you as being influential until years or perhaps even decades later?” In Music wins! A personal Black History Month story,  the author shares recollections from high school that answer this question. A talented musician, Bill built a friendship with an African American fellow student bused in to their previously all-white school. They shared musical stylings and taught each other about their different approaches. “Today I realize that we both shared something that would last a lot longer than our jam sessions or trading ‘licks’, and that was the fact that music brought us together in a way that was both completely unexpected and totally predictable!” Bill in Waco Texas joined in 2018 and has written nine stories, with two rescued.

Author AAAMCWB and his husband have been together for decades, formalizing their agreement through marriage multiple times. In Til death do us part, he reflects on how amazing it is to have the legal right to marry and that, even though an emotional bond is powerful, the legal bond adds an important layer. “For years I had said that in our hearts, Timo and I were married, regardless of what some state law may say. While a Supreme Court decision was important, it wouldn’t make a difference to our marriage. I honestly believed those words when I said them. I had no idea how wrong I was.” AAAMCWB joined in 2020 and has written nine stories. This is his first rescue.

Since Mitch D is a big baseball fan, it is natural to describe Trump with a baseball game metaphor. In His deplorable base, the author takes the elder George Bush’s famous quote about being born on third base and applies it to Donald Trump. "Oh, it’s true Trump was born on third base but far from being pleased he’d hit a triple, he was disappointed. He thought, right out of the ‘Lucky Sperm Club’ birthing tube, he should have hit a home run." Mitch D joined in 2018 and has written three stories. This is their first rescue.

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT is dedicated to finding great writing by community members that isn’t getting the visibility it deserves.

  • To add our rescued stories to your Stream, click on the word FOLLOW in the left panel at our main page or click on Reblogs and read them directly on the group page.
  • You can also find a list of our rescued stories by clicking HERE or using the link in Meteor Blades’ Night Owls open thread that publishes daily between 7-9PM Pacific time.

An edition of our rescue roundup publishes every Saturday at 1 PM ET (10AM PT) to the Recent Community Stories section and to the front page at 6:30PM ET (3:30PM PT).

Pelosi, Trump start talking about the next phase of coronavirus stimulus, need to be talking bigger

The new Daily Kos/Civiqs poll is chock-full of important and astounding information about how the American public is handling the COVID-19 pandemic. In and amongst that data is the suffering, and the reason why Congress still has a lot of work to do to get us through this crisis. Through March 30, one in FIVE Americans who were working before the outbreak say that they have been laid off or furloughed from their position. Nearly 40%—fully 39%—of households have lost income. More than a quarter, 26%, has already been affected by a layoff, furlough, or cut hours and another 15% feel extremely concerned that it will happen to them. Another 28% are moderately or slightly concerned they'll lose income because of the disease and its economic impact.

That's a lot of economic uncertainty that a one-time check for $1,200 isn't likely to allay. The enhanced unemployment benefits that were included in the third coronavirus stimulus bill will help a lot of people, but it won't help everyone including all those people still working but with fewer hours. There's still so much work to be done to get the country through this, and with money practically free to borrow now, yes, Congress should be "tossing money out of helicopters" to answer it, since the Fed is unlikely to do it. Give everyone money, and while you're at it, all the things Speaker Nancy Pelosi is talking about, especially what was in the House bill that didn't make it into the Senate's bill.

In an interview in The New York Times Pelosi "emphasized the need to secure more equipment for health workers on the front lines, known as personal protective equipment, and ventilators for hospitals" and House Democrats would make another "push to bolster pensions and medical leave provisions, and would work to ensure that other aspects of treatment for the coronavirus, beyond the initial test, would be covered by the government." She also talked about more direct aid to families, including "a possible retroactive rollback of the limit on the state and local tax deduction, a change that hurt high earners in states like New York and California." Fine, if that's what it takes to get Republican support, but that's not a sword to die on.

The sword to die on is health care for everyone infected by this disease. It's food security for everyone. It's making sure that the nation's millions of incarcerated people aren't left to die locked up. It's making sure that the gig workers and minimum-wage workers and the undocumented workers who are securing our food supply have the protections they need on the job and in society. It means at least $2 billion to secure this year's elections AND saving the U.S. Postal Service to conduct the necessary vote-by-mail elections.

It means not just postponing student loan payments, but cancelling student loan debts. It needs to have Housing Security, including a moratorium on evictions, a national mortgage and rent holiday, and at least $200 billion to keep housing stable.

It could also have the infrastructure Donald Trump endorsed in a tweet Tuesday: "Two Trillion Dollars, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our Country! Phase 4." Whatever, if that gets Trump on board, as long as it's green, sustainable infrastructure. That, by the way, should include broadband infrastructure—the entire nation needs to have access to reliable, high-speed internet. That's one thing this crisis has demonstrated in spades; the technology gap can cripple communities. Earmarking those trillions now would be great for getting people to work on infrastructure right out of the gate when it's safe for people to be out in the world again.

So yes, Phase 4 or whatever Donald Trump wants to call it, provided he gets Republicans in Congress—who are so far rejecting the notion that more has to be done—on board. They're not going to have much choice, realistically. It's not going to take very long for the pressure to build on them to realize that they haven't done nearly enough to get us out of this thing standing.