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Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on Friday that he thinks a mileage tax "shows a lot of promise," opening a giant can of worms as to whether the Biden administration should consider such an idea.
Speaking with CNBC, Buttigieg outlined his ideas on several infrastructure proposals, chatting about financing for revamping roads and bridges across the country. Asked about whether he still believes gas taxes are "old fashioned," he said he doesn't believe they're the right long term solution.
A mileage tax, on the other hand, which would charge drivers a cent or two for each mile on the road, intrigues Buttigieg more. "I think that shows a lot of promise," he said. "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."
"The gas tax used to be the obvious way to do it; it's not anymore," he continued. "A so-called vehicle miles traveled tax or a mileage tax, whatever you want to call it, could be the way to do it."
As The Washington Post reports, Oregon and Utah already have some form of mileage tax, but there are several reasons the idea has yet to take off. First of all, there are privacy concerns, since some level of data collection would be required. Additionally, some argue moving away from a gas tax could disincentivize buying fuel-efficient vehicles. Also, a mileage tax would arguably unfairly tax people who can't afford to live in expensive cities but drive long commutes to reach jobs in metropolitan areas. Buttigieg's comments drew criticism from both sides of the aisle on that front.
Watch Buttigieg's interview below.