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Pete Buttigieg says taxing folks for every mile they drive is an option for funding infrastructure plan
Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Pete Buttigieg says taxing folks for every mile they drive is an option for funding infrastructure plan

The idea is not going over well

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg suggested Friday that implementing a mileage tax on American drivers could be a possibility as the Biden administration considers ways to pay for their anticipated multi-trillion-dollar "green" infrastructure plan.

What are the details?

Buttigieg is calling for "a generational investment in infrastructure," but has offered few details regarding how it might be financed, as the Associated Press noted earlier this week.

The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, was asked about the possibility of a mileage tax as an option during an interview on CNBC, and he replied, "So, I think that shows a lot of promise," explaining:

"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. So a so-called Vehicle Miles Traveled tax or mileage tax, whatever you want to call it, could be a way to do it."

Implementing a mileage tax would involve installing every vehicle on the roadway with a distance-tracking device, which raises both privacy and tampering concerns.

Proponents of such a plan argue that it is more fair than a fuel tax because even electric cars are taxed under the scheme. But such a tax hits the poor the hardest, and opponents from both right and left came out swinging against Buttigieg to make that point.

"Truly brilliant way to completely screw over lower income and middle class Americans!" Meghan McCain, co-host of "The View," tweeted. "And every single person living in a rural area who has to drive far to get places! Just brilliant Pete, truly."

Fox News host Laura Ingraham said of Buttigieg's comments, "Once again, Biden & Secretary 'Pete' hurting the poor and middle class most with 'miles travelled' tax."

Progressive journalist Walker Bragman tweeted, "We should be 'funding' public infrastructure by taxing the wealthiest Americans. Pete Buttigieg's first big idea as transportation secretary is funding it with a mileage tax, which basically means people who use the roads more pay more. Regressive McKinsey brain."

Someone else argued, "I don't think he's thought this out very well. Housing costs in Nashville is causing ppl to move miles away to find affordable housing. This would hit those who could ill afford it hard as there is NO public transportation to take advantage of. This would hit rural areas hard."

But the transportation secretary had some defenders. One person tweeted, "Excellent idea! The more you drive, the more you pay. Seems like a fair proposal to me. The haters don't have an alternative and they'd rather see China racing us by apparently..."

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