Seeking Alpha

The Obama administration is considering a plan to tax drivers on the amount of miles they drive....

The Obama administration is considering a plan to tax drivers on the amount of miles they drive. The tax could be enforced by installing equipment in vehicles to track usage, and payments could be made at service stations.
Comments (64)
  • How much longer will we have to put up with this Nazi !
    5 May 2011, 05:21 PM Reply Like
  • what is your plan to offset the gasoline taxes lost by electric vehicles?
    5 May 2011, 05:39 PM Reply Like
  • What "electric vehicles"? Even with a tax subsidy, how many Chevy Volts has Government Motors sold?
    5 May 2011, 05:44 PM Reply Like
  • Speaking of Nazi influence, W. Bush passed laws that encountered people to buy 8 mpg Hummers with taxpayer funded rebates.
    5 May 2011, 05:47 PM Reply Like
  • Kind of like Obama's $7500 tax credit on electric golf carts which incidentally made a great number of them free. Yeah, that's real sound policy.
    5 May 2011, 06:01 PM Reply Like
  • coloneldbugger,


    Electric vehicle road use fees could simply be solved via license plate/registration fees.


    Not unlike in some states, you pay for tags by Weight. Yet another issue that Makes Terry330's comments meaningless nonsense.


    But you already got your Chevy Volt $7K tax credit didn't you?
    5 May 2011, 06:33 PM Reply Like
  • Eliminating the DHS and TSA would probably cover it.
    5 May 2011, 06:53 PM Reply Like
  • This is the most inane idea coming from the Obama administration...who cares how many miles I want to drive? It is my choice it is my can't force people to do things just because you want to hug your environmentalists friends...


    Stop the socialism, stop meddling with the private sector, enough is enough...


    What it is next, are you going to tax me for the oxygen I breath? Are there aren't enough taxes already? Do you take in consideration that the middle class would be the most hurt by the childish policies?
    5 May 2011, 07:18 PM Reply Like
  • Reduce government spending, what is your goal to get as much as you can out of us?
    5 May 2011, 05:41 PM Reply Like
  • The current issue of The Economist has an interesting article on the decaying state of infrastructure in the US and the various methods of potentially funding improvements (including private). Anyone interested in this topic might want to check it out.


    But addressing THIS article linked by SA -- if (please note I said IF) you are in favor of funding infrastructure through usage-based taxes, why set up a whole new regime to track miles driven? Why not just increase the existing taxes on gas/diesel? It's a very reasonable proxy for miles driven, and (unlike miles driven) it rewards fuel efficient vehicles.
    5 May 2011, 05:44 PM Reply Like
  • Adding an update, as this topic has gotten popular fast. Look, I hate taxes as much as anyone else. But a few things are worth noting. First, roads in the US are overwhelmingly funded by fuel taxes. Second, the US investment in infrastructure (relative to GDP) is WAY below OECD averages, and falling. Third, this is mainly caused by the extremely low fuel taxes (again relative to OECD avg).


    Fourth, unlike lavish pensions for govt. workers, infrastructure investments can be highly productive. The US infrastructure is decaying, something is going to have to be done.
    5 May 2011, 05:52 PM Reply Like
  • OECD averages... Seriously?


    OECD numbers are a manipulation, you can't compare Germanys or any other countries infrastructure to the US... Show me a country with as many miles of road that are in better condition, can you name any?


    The US is in a class by itself due to its size so of course we will be below "Average" when compared to any smaller country.


    You wanna see infrastructure decay go to ANY country outside the USA and take a drive outside of the tourist areas (China, Mexico, Brasil, Russia you name it...)


    Short of kick starting the TVA when have infrastructure projects made ANY significant difference to the things that matter (Unemployment / money moving at the local level), Infrastructure contracts are dominated by the same 5-8 companies in each state and amount to nothing more than political pork


    5 May 2011, 06:33 PM Reply Like
  • John, I'd have to say your view on infrastructure in other countries is a bit outdated. I've driven through much of Eastern Europe and the roads are surprisingly good in most places. And German/Swiss roads are much better kept than USA's roads. Even Russia has begun improving their roads.... 5 years ago I wouldn't look forward to a drive from say Samara to Kazan, but now its pretty good (outside of worrying about drunk truck drivers). I can't speak to China/India, but can speak to Thailand and those roads are just as good as what we have here in the USA.


    I don't see why they can't simply figure out what the average car driver pays in gasoline tax and make them pay that when they renew the registration for their electric car. Heck, make it 10 or 20 percent more because I'm sure these folks don't mind paying extra to save the environment and that will allow the government to not raise the gas tax on me!!!! :)


    The idea of big brother monitoring where I go is a non-starter as far as this gun-owning, government distrusting, self-reliant American is concerned.
    5 May 2011, 08:11 PM Reply Like
  • The motorways in Eastern Europe are very good, but that's only because they're very new owing to massive motorway construction projects (where they basically had none) after the Soviet bloc collapse. The roads in say the former West Germany are no better and perhaps worse than most in the US. And the key point John made is in terms of total miles of roadway and density. Germany is perhaps a little larger than the size of Oregon, but with a much higher population density and thus more dollars and fewer miles per driver to maintain.
    6 May 2011, 02:32 AM Reply Like
  • Why not tax the many 4000-6000 pound SUV's and one ton trucks just used for personal use. They get 8 mpg.
    5 May 2011, 05:44 PM Reply Like
  • They ARE being the form of gas taxes already in place. The more fuel used, the more tax is paid.
    5 May 2011, 06:02 PM Reply Like
  • I have better idea. Classify these vehicles as truck and you can drive these on truck route only. That will teach lesson to my neighbor who owns hummer for no reason.
    5 May 2011, 09:01 PM Reply Like
  • tiger- he owns it for the reason that it's what he wants to drive. This is still a free country, isn't it? Why don't you just ride a bicycle so that there's more gas available for me?
    5 May 2011, 11:35 PM Reply Like
  • Why does Obama want to monitor car use? If he wants to tax it, raising gas taxes is as good a way as any, and a lot less intrusive.


    Or is it a case of the camel's nose under the tent?
    6 May 2011, 10:29 AM Reply Like
  • My only non-conspiracy theory type guess is to create more gov. jobs, as you stated the gas tax is a built in usage control.
    6 May 2011, 10:32 AM Reply Like
  • Good luck enforcing that idea. Then we will have rules to limit how many miles we can drive in a day. Does not the government already have a tax on mileage in the form of an $0.18+ a gallon gasoline excise tax?! I appreciate the government taking even more control of my life. I really wish the government would tell me what I can have for supper tonight because without its glorious guidance I would be lost as to how to care for myself.
    5 May 2011, 05:46 PM Reply Like
  • it's called Obamacare - wait for it......
    5 May 2011, 10:55 PM Reply Like
  • This president is extremely crazy. Quit depending on foreign oil companies and get other energy implemented!
    Every administration says they are going to find alternate energy and it never happens!!
    5 May 2011, 05:46 PM Reply Like
  • This is a joke, right?


    Most use-based highway maintenance problems are caused by the freight vehicles - which are mostly only on the road because the rail system is so useless.


    Feel free to track and tax them. They are already tracked, so adding a tax should be pretty straightforward.


    Tracking and taxing Joe public will never happen. It is silly to even talk about it, much less throw away $200M studying it.
    5 May 2011, 05:46 PM Reply Like
  • It has to happen vboring. Otherwise the US will have to declare bankruptcy. These aren't normal times, the US government is desperate and willing to attempt anything to avoid imminent default within the next 10 years. Otherwise I would agree with you, this plan is crazy.
    5 May 2011, 06:30 PM Reply Like
  • So in addition to having to pay states to go on toll roads, drivers would have to pay the Federal government to drive as well? Another means for the government to get bigger. I think this will be met with such a backlash from voters that it would never actually get passed.
    5 May 2011, 05:48 PM Reply Like
  • just tax the gasoline like everywhere... it's simpler and effective


    the more your car eats, the more you pay - so if you have to drive, at least you will choose a virtuous car and not a 8mpg monster; this will also help the economy as a lot of cars will need to be replaced....


    it's not a mistery that in Europe where gas can be as high as 10$ per gallon most cars are more efficient (actually there are still SUVs... maybe $100 per gallon or more is needed...)
    5 May 2011, 05:51 PM Reply Like
  • zio- virtuous? Are you for real? Good Lord!
    5 May 2011, 11:37 PM Reply Like
  • I know how government can save $200 million through fiscal year 2017.
    5 May 2011, 05:51 PM Reply Like
  • This has got to be the stupidest freaking idea to come out of Washington yet. Who will pay for the technology? How easy will it be to sabotage or dismantle it? And then of course there is the issue of new taxes in a major recession.
    5 May 2011, 05:52 PM Reply Like
  • "Stupidest" is kind of all-encompassing. Obama has plenty of other stupid ideas you haven't yet heard. This was one he didn't think was nearly as stupid as his others.
    5 May 2011, 06:11 PM Reply Like
  • Taxes are good for the economy when it means the US won't have to default.
    5 May 2011, 06:31 PM Reply Like
  • matt:


    "Those who would give up their liberty for security deserve neither."


    -- Benjamin Franklin
    5 May 2011, 06:33 PM Reply Like
  • Headlines like this are meaningless.


    It will never happen.


    You can bet on it.
    Raising gas taxes to compensate to the current subsidies of "Green" Vehicles will achieve the same thing.
    5 May 2011, 05:52 PM Reply Like
  • I have to agree. I think this is just a wild idea being bounced around, not one they're going to seriously pursue. But hey, whatever it takes to get some page views, right?
    5 May 2011, 05:54 PM Reply Like
  • Exactly.
    5 May 2011, 06:19 PM Reply Like
  • Why do the wacko right wingers insist that public transportation has to pay for itself but have a fit when the government proposes that roads pay for themselves?


    Maybe its not a public transportation thing but just a screw the poor thing...
    5 May 2011, 05:56 PM Reply Like
  • The gas tax pays for the roads!
    5 May 2011, 06:02 PM Reply Like
  • The gas taxes were supposed to pay for the roads and their upkeep. However much of the funds are siphoned off to pay for other pet projects.
    5 May 2011, 06:28 PM Reply Like
  • Not sure where you live but the gas tax is clearly not paying for the absolutely massive expenditures needed to maintain our aging infrastructure. Our highway system is over 50 years old and no one is willing to pay what it takes to maintain it. Bridges in major metropolitan areas collapse. Potholes cause billions of dollars of damage to vehicles every year. Gridlock causes billions of dollars in lost productivity every year.


    If you want to live in a third world then move there. Don't turn the US into the third world but not paying for what you use. You want your McMansion in the suburbs then time to ante up. There is no free lunch. And you all can quit whining about invasion of privacy. 99% of the commenters here probably love the Patriot Act.
    5 May 2011, 06:33 PM Reply Like
  • All transportation, everywhere, is subsidized by government. Has been since early Roman times. My complaint is not with paying for roads- I believe we must pay for roads and in fact we are paying. It's just that the funds are being used for other things, not roads.


    I would suggest that what is left (if any) of the stimulus money be applied to fixing every pot hole and infrastructure issue in this country. Use the unemployed, get them working again, paying taxes, off welfare and get on with it.
    5 May 2011, 07:02 PM Reply Like
  • I for one would like to see the revocation of the Patriot Act. There's nothing patriotic about taking away constitutional rights.
    5 May 2011, 10:49 PM Reply Like
  • Stop stealing gas tax money for stupid pet projects like bike lanes in the middle of highways, dumbass streetcars that can't fund themselves on a sustained basis (see Cincinnati), etc. There is a reason why those things disapeared 60 years ago...
    5 May 2011, 11:42 PM Reply Like
  • Not going to happen - everything from privacy concerns to resistance to a new tax. Hope they don't waste money studying how to implement it.
    If more money is needed to maintain & create new road infrastructure - increase gas tax - or better still take some funding from Federal Govt's general revenue. Yeah, I know that means cutting some other government expenditure.
    I know, so hard to do that. / end sarcasm.
    5 May 2011, 05:58 PM Reply Like
  • What about bicycles? In Europe a lot of the middle class get around completely on bikes. Are we going to let them get a free ride?
    5 May 2011, 06:01 PM Reply Like
  • New Jersey is already ahead of you
    That state is turning into the California of the east coast.
    5 May 2011, 06:49 PM Reply Like
  • I should have known: I grew up in Joisey and hope I never have to return. Forcing bicyclists to buy license plates may actually advance science. Every visit to the motor vehicles department provides an opportunity to gather information that shows the human race is comprised of more than one species.
    5 May 2011, 08:55 PM Reply Like
  • Hmmm... What if the bulk of your driving is on private property (farmers, ranchers, 4x4 mudders, mail-getters, etc)? Can they apply for an exemption, a-la the healthcare fias..., er reform bill?
    5 May 2011, 06:02 PM Reply Like
  • Incidentally, when the administration floated this idea, they claimed it wasn't a proposal, just an idea. This is what you call a trial balloon. Send it up and watch to see how many bullets try to take it down. Clearly, Obama knows his idealism is extreme. He also gets brownie points, which are exchangeable for campaign cash, from environmentalists if he will at least float these wayward ideas out there. Who doesn't believe such an idea wouldn't metamorph into a maximum mileage quota?
    5 May 2011, 06:08 PM Reply Like
  • Duude,


    You are right. Every once in a while, they have to throw these things out to test the will of the Sheeple.


    They need to test the line now and then.


    That said, Don't Laugh. Outrageous proposals such as this are to prime people for slightly less outrageous ones which do get implemented over time.


    In 1979-1980 I was on assignment in Montreal.
    Learned there was a seatbelt law in Canada.


    The mere thought that we could wind up with such in the US (at least at the time) was unthinkable.


    And, less than ten years later ( using AirBag legislation as the excuse) here we are.


    They said at the time, If we got seatbelt legislation they would "Back Off" on Airbags.


    Remember those stupid motorized "passive" seatbelts?


    Now, we have both.
    5 May 2011, 06:14 PM Reply Like
  • This is only incidentally about taxation. It's barely a smokescreen. This is about Big Brother -- first getting into your car, then onto your person-- tracking your every move, knowing every place you've visited, knowing where you are right this very minute. This is a barely-disguised move toward "1984," which for totalitarians was only postponed, not abolished.


    Recall all the times the Left screams invasion of people's rights to privacy when someone on the Right wants to pursue criminals? Now, when they want to monitor and control everybody, it doesn't matter so much. In fact, not at all.
    5 May 2011, 06:09 PM Reply Like
  • exactly, get people to fight about something, meanwhile invade personal privacy further.
    5 May 2011, 06:11 PM Reply Like
  • That 'tracking' device will later be injected into your body.
    5 May 2011, 06:18 PM Reply Like
  • by the Antichrist. In everyone's hand or forehead. It says so in the book of Revelations in the Christian Bible.
    5 May 2011, 07:46 PM Reply Like
  • This idea is terrible. How did this proposal clear the President's political camp? Did they think consumers were HAPPY that their smart phones could track their locations...that we needed MORE tracking?
    5 May 2011, 06:14 PM Reply Like
  • This kind of Big-Brother, KGB-like thinking isn't concerned with your happiness or your acceptance. It's aim is to control you, with your acquiescence or against your will, no matter.
    5 May 2011, 06:18 PM Reply Like
  • At first I thought this had to be some kind of April fool's joke...


    Now my theory is that there are Republican moles in the Democrat Party thinking up these politically disastrous proposals as some kind of sabotage...


    next they will propose a 20% VAT like europe to "reduce the deficit"...
    hey wait a minute !
    5 May 2011, 06:51 PM Reply Like
  • I suppose Obama, basking in the post-Bin-Laden glow, thought, with the people fawning, that the timing was perfect for launching a new, insidious and more dangerous threat to Americans' freedoms than anything Osama might have fantasized in Pakistan.
    5 May 2011, 06:38 PM Reply Like
  • Guaranteed Nancy Pelosi's husband is involved in selling the meters/technology. (see CLNE)
    5 May 2011, 06:43 PM Reply Like
  • I have a BETTER IDEA - instead of taxing miles driven, why not tax toilet paper use!? Come to think of it, many more people wipe than drive.


    And when you're done you can throw it all right in the can with this stupid headline snag.
    5 May 2011, 08:20 PM Reply Like
  • 90% of the people don't want to be governed, and 90% of the government wants to rule. There will come a breaking point.
    5 May 2011, 08:29 PM Reply Like
  • "The tax could be enforced by installing equipment in vehicles to track usage, and payments could be made at service stations."


    Boggles my mind the Dems haven't ever heard of an odometer.


    5 May 2011, 08:31 PM Reply Like
  • This is one of the ridiculous idea heard so far. Obama definitely will not come up this kind of idea. He is one of the smartest president in the recent presidential history. This news must be from FOX network.
    5 May 2011, 08:50 PM Reply Like
  • Yep, UPI is not what it used to be since that Asian cult bought it.


    More garbage news.
    6 May 2011, 05:19 AM Reply Like
DJIA (DIA) S&P 500 (SPY)