Should Government Track the Miles You Drive?

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One American gets up in the morning, gets in his car, and drives down a congested highway to work.

Another wakes at noon and rides a subway to a saloon.

Which of these two—if America’s future takes a wrong turn—would pay what might be called the “Buttigieg tax”?

CNBC’s Kayla Tausche asked Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in a March 26 interview what sort of taxes he perceived as possible ways to pay for infrastructure projects.

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“First, a gas tax,” she asked. “You called it old-fashioned to raise the gas tax. Do you still believe that? Could that go up?”

“Well,” said Buttigieg, “the gas tax has traditionally been part of how we fund the Highway Trust Fund, but we know that it can’t be the answer forever because we’re going to be using less and less gas.

“We’re trying to electrify the vehicle fleet,” he explained.

Indeed, President Joe Biden last week called for spending $174 billion in tax dollars to promote electric vehicles, or EVs.

“He is proposing a $174 billion investment to win the [electric vehicle] market,” said a White House fact sheet on Biden’s American Jobs Plan. “His plan will enable automakers to spur domestic supply chains from raw materials to parts, retool factories to compete globally, and support American workers to make batteries and [electric vehicles]. It will give consumers point of sale rebates and tax incentives to buy American-made [electric vehicles], while ensuring that these vehicles are affordable for all families and manufactured by workers with good jobs.”

But, as even Buttigieg conceded, this would create at least one problem: If an ever-increasing number of Americans start driving electric cars, what will happen to the federal revenue derived from the tax on gasoline, which is now used to fund transportation infrastructure through the Highway Trust Fund?

“What about a mileage-based tax?” Tausche asked Buttigieg.

This is a tax the government would charge a person for every mile they drive.

“I think that shows a lot of promise,” said Buttigieg.

“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,” he said. “It’s not anymore.

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

But how would the government know how many miles you drove?

On Feb. 26, 2009, an entity called the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission submitted a report to then-newly inaugurated Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Its congressionally mandated job was “to assess future federal highway and transit investment needs, evaluate the future of the federal Highway Trust Fund, and explore alternative funding and financing mechanisms for surface transportation.”

The commission recommended that the federal government establish a “vehicle miles traveled,” or VMT, taxing system for cars.

“The Commission cast a wide net, reviewed many funding alternatives, and concluded that indeed the most viable approach to efficiently fund federal investment in surface transportation in the medium to long run will be a user charge system based more directly on miles driven (and potentially on factors such as time of day, type of road, and vehicle weight and fuel economy) rather than indirectly on fuel consumed,” said its report.

“However much revenue Congress decides to raise at the federal level, the Commission believes it is critical to move forward with a [vehicle miles traveled] fee system,” its report concluded.

Ultimately, this would require tracking the miles driven by every car. The commission conceded this would raise what it called “privacy concerns.”

“There is a very real concern among policy makers and the general public that a road pricing system that charges based on when and where individuals travel inherently threatens privacy,” said its report. “Indeed, if these systems are not designed and implemented properly, the threat to privacy could be very real. This leads to two significant challenges that must be overcome if comprehensive pricing is to be seriously considered in the United States: first, any system must ensure adequate safeguards to personal privacy; second, the public agency or agencies charged with implementing comprehensive pricing must gain the confidence of policy makers and the public that these safeguards exist and will be effective.”

Bottom line: You would need to trust Buttigieg’s bureaucracy—or some entity acting on the government’s behalf—to put a tracker in your car.

The commission suggested that privacy could be protected if the satellite-tracked movements of an American’s car were stored only in the car itself.

“Specifically, these designs center on the use of an on-board unit (one in each vehicle) that would contain a GPS receiver that receives satellite signals enabling it to calculate vehicle location in real time and a computer that calculates the associated [vehicle miles traveled] charge,” said the report.

“The key point is that the satellite signal is only a one-way signal ‘telling’ the car receiver where it is, and therefore outside the vehicle there is no tracking of where individuals travel,” said the report. “In essence, this receiving function of a [vehicle miles traveled] system would function like the GPS devices that millions of Americans have already installed in their cars without worry of privacy loss.”

Then, perhaps, the government could have employers withhold the vehicle miles traveled tax from the paychecks of people who insist on driving to work—instead of taking the subway to a saloon.


The Daily Signal publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of The Heritage Foundation.

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  1. Nothing like this Nazi-Communist regime wanting to track all your activities. Never trust a Nazi-Commie (DemocRAT)!

    1. Here is the official list of communist goals as revealed by Dr. Cleon Skousen inThe Naked Communist pg.259+ …(1963)
      1. U.S. acceptance of coexistence as the only alternative to atomic war.
      2. U.S. willingness to capitulate in preference to engaging in atomic war.
      3. Develop the illusion that total disarmament [by] the United States would be a demonstration of moral strength.
      4. Permit free trade between all nations regardless of Communist affiliation and regardless of whether or not items could be used for war.
      5. Extension of long-term loans to Russia and Soviet satellites.
      6. Provide American aid to all nations regardless of Communist domination.
      7. Grant recognition of Red China. Admission of Red China to the U.N.
      8. Set up East and West Germany as separate states in spite of Khrushchev’s promise in 1955 to settle the German question by free elections under supervision of the U.N.
      9. Prolong the conferences to ban atomic tests because the United States has agreed to suspend tests as long as negotiations are in progress.
      10. Allow all Soviet satellites individual representation in the U.N.
      11. Promote the U.N. as the only hope for mankind. If its charter is rewritten, demand that it be set up as a one-world government with its own independent armed forces. (Some Communist leaders believe the world can be taken over as easily by the U.N. as by Moscow. Sometimes these two centers compete with each other as they are now doing in the Congo.)
      12. Resist any attempt to outlaw the Communist Party.
      13. Do away with all loyalty oaths.
      14. Continue giving Russia access to the U.S. Patent Office.
      15. Capture one or both of the political parties in the United States.
      16. Use technical decisions of the courts to weaken basic American institutions by claiming their activities violate civil rights.
      17. Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers’ associations. Put the party line in textbooks.
      18. Gain control of all student newspapers.
      19. Use student riots to foment public protests against programs or organizations, which are under Communist attack.
      20. Infiltrate the press. Get control of book-review assignments, editorial writing, and policymaking positions.
      21. Gain control of key positions in radio, TV, and motion pictures.
      22. Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all forms of artistic expression. An American Communist cell was told to “eliminate all good sculpture from parks and buildings, substitute shapeless, awkward and meaningless forms.”
      23. Control art critics and directors of art museums. “Our plan is to promote ugliness, repulsive, meaningless art.”
      24. Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them “censorship” and a violation of free speech and free press.
      25. Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.
      26. Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as “normal, natural, healthy.”
      27. Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with “social” religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a “religious crutch.”
      28. Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of “separation of church and state.”
      29. Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis.
      30. Discredit the American Founding Fathers. Present them as selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the “common man.”
      31. Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of American history on the ground that it was only a minor part of the “big picture.” Give more emphasis to Russian history since the Communists took over.
      32. Support any socialist movement to give centralized control over any part of the culture–education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health clinics, etc.
      33. Eliminate all laws or procedures which interfere with the operation of the Communist apparatus.
      34. Eliminate the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
      35. Discredit and eventually dismantle the FBI.
      36. Infiltrate and gain control of more unions.
      37. Infiltrate and gain control of big business.
      38. Transfer some of the powers of arrest from the police to social agencies. Treat all behavioral problems as psychiatric disorders which no one but psychiatrists can understand [or treat].
      39. Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals.
      40. Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy divorce.
      41. Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents. Attribute prejudices, mental blocks and retarding of children to suppressive influence of parents.
      42. Create the impression that violence and insurrection are legitimate aspects of the American tradition; that students and special-interest groups should rise up and use [“]united force[“] to solve economic, political or social problems.
      43. Overthrow all colonial governments before native populations are ready for self-government.
      44. Internationalize the Panama Canal.
      45. Repeal the Connelly reservation so the United States cannot prevent the World Court from seizing jurisdiction [over domestic problems. Give the World Court jurisdiction] over nations and individuals alike.

  2. The incompetence of this moron is clearly demonstrated in this proposal. We need less government intrusion into our lives, not more. But given this idiots track record in South Bend it should be obvious that this fool is not suited to be the head of any governmental department but our senile demented old fool Biden chose him only because he’s queer. Enough is enough.

  3. Bad idea. We already pay taxes at the pump. We pay our county to give us a window sticker every year. We paid taxes on the vehicle at purchase. We pay to have the vehicle inspected every year. It’s getting so expensive just to own a vehicle. All that PLUS the maintenance of keeping up the vehicle. Now they want to tax us for every mile we drive? That’s the Demoncratic way of thinking.

    1. That is bull crap we pay enough taxes government already give out hard earned. money to illegals and now taxes on how far we go Buttegio butthead is and idiot Wht does he care he probably has a driver to take him everywhere I say no stop already we don’t want to be treated like a communist country I say no to gas tax just more of control by government bull sh—

    2. Well, yes, but that’s exactly what “government” does; provide “incentives” to herd the citizenry into the pens it manages with iron fists. “Government” _wants_ EVs, therefore will do everything possible to make fossil fueled vehicles anathema.

      As Ayn Rand pointed out, “There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.”

  4. Democrats again want to force us to pay more taxes, so they can waste more and pay for their campaigns, again.

    1. Otis – ya forgot to add in the bribes (and the big guy’s cut) that they have to pay in exchange for those votes. Wasting our money is a way of life to them.
      I already asked on other forums – will all vehicles pay the same rate per mile? My car gets 30+ miles per gallon, will I pay the same rate as say a diesel powered pickup truck or will I get an ‘efficiency’ discount? No answer from the idjits that are proposing this silliness.

  5. Peterpuffer Dick Inbutt needs to stick to hanging out in men’s restrooms rather than put forward terrible intrusions on the freedom of the American people. Where in the Constitution does the federal government have the right to track how, when and where I go? I’ve read the document and I couldn’t for the life of me find a thing about that. I would say Pete go f yourself but he probably already does.

  6. Mayor Buttplug was a disaster in South Bend, and he is already playing the fool in Washington. Democrats just can’t wait to add taxes and do their skimming, enriching them, and their families and friends. Mister Fister here should just cool his jets.

  7. Sounds to me like toll roads would fix all the problems. No privacy concerns, everybody’s equally irritated. My question is this, will the gas tax be dropped in favor of the new system or will that stay as a punishment for using fossil fuel?

  8. I sort of want to see IRS agents go around checking odometers like the meter man does for the gas company. Other than that funny mental image, it’s a bad idea.

    1. Simple work around. Disconnect the vss and use waze or similar traffic/gps app or old school gps unit for speed and what have you

  9. The GPS mileage will be stored in the vehicle…
    They want to spend millions to billions to design/build and incorporate a satellite one way GPS signal to every car so they can generate and store the mileage driven by that vehicle in the vehicle to be reviewed (somehow) by government at some timepoint to determine tax.

    Has this idiot ever heard of or looked at the odometer in his car? And guess what genius they this information is written down during your vehicles annual inspection. What a novel idea if you want to tax miles driven just subtract odometer reading at inspection from previous years inspection. And this will not cost millions to implement!

    Oh crap I just gave them a cheap method to pull it off without having to go to Congress for tax money. They will have to use several years of mileage taxes just to pay for their proposed plan to generate taxes for roads.

    And has anyone else wondered where they will get the electricity to charge all these new electric vehicles? The current power grids struggle in CA and NY with brownouts, TX recent power outage not only would have effected homes but potentially stranded vehicles. Our current power grids can not handle this conversion. Haven’t seen an electric tractor yet, or electric Pickup that can haul my hay or pull 10,000 lb trailer. Where would the toxic materials in these batteries be disposed of when unable to recharge? What about the busted batteries from accidents? Getting every mechanics shop down to mom & pop shops and local repair shops retrained to work on electric vehicles and retooled.
    Don’t think will need to worry anytime within this administrations time in office of this actually happening. Except for attempting to generate more taxes to pay for this mandated boondoggle.

    1. Typo’s in second paragraph it should have read subtract the previous odometer reading from current and threw in an extra they in the sentence before.
      Can’t call out one idiot if don’t point at my own mistakes 😉

  10. Alfred E. Neuman at it again. He was a disaster as mayor and he will be a disaster at DOT. It seems as if this new administration’s lexicon consists only words aimed for new or increased taxes. Can’t these pinheads come up with ideas that will NOT raise taxes?

  11. As a truck driver we are currently taxed up the ass, fuel tax, road tax, tolls, state permits, IFTA, let alone parts etc. on the truck. We drive a lot of miles each year. Leave all drivers alone.

  12. Somehow, owners of electric vehicles need to help pay into the Highway Trust Fund. They’re not contributing like owners of vehicles that pay a gas tax at the pump. Electric car owners are not paying their fair share. I’m as Conservative as everyone else who has commented to this article, but the truth is the truth, even if it comes from freakshow Buttigieg.

    Somehow the owners of electric vehicles need to have the miles they drive to be accessed so that they can pay into the Highway Trust Fund. Also, since many states also charge a gas tax at the pump, electric vehicle owners needs to pay into state coffers as well. This fact wasn’t mentioned at all in the article. As time goes on and more people purchase electric vehicles, this problem is going to get worse until a solution is found without a loss of privacy.

    To simply raise the gas tax to help increase the Highway Trust Fund is not fair unless electric vehicle owners contribute as well.

    1. Use the odometer readings on EV’s for usage tax then plus annual inspection to insure batteries in good shape and apply a specific EV tax to balance out not purchasing gas. Leave the rest of us alone we already handling the brunt which is being misused anyway.

  13. My driving is my business and not the Communist Democrats! Remove all of them from office! We are NOT a Communist Country, and we are NOT going to be a Communist Country! All Communist Democrat Government officials who do NOT follow the US Constitution need to be immediatel expelled from office! Elections do not work!
    The Communist Democrats have proven elections are rigged from the massive fraud that put Communist Joe Biden is office. Dominion voting machines were calibrated to give Donald Trump .76 for each 1 vote cast for him. Joe Biden received 1.24 votes for each vote cast for him. Do the math, Donald Trump actuaslly received 105 million legal votes to win the 2020 election!

  14. I have one question. What do you do if, like us, you live on a farm and are close to a small town that has no public transportation what so ever. We have vehicles that can go through two feet of snow although,since we are both retired, we don’t do much driving anymore we need something that has some real power and is four wheel drive to get out of our door-yard in the winter. Also when we were working there was and is no public transportation to where we worked.

  15. Let me tell you how it will be
    There’s one for you, nineteen for me
    ‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman
    Should five per cent appear too small
    Be thankful I don’t take it all
    ‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman
    If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street
    If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat
    If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat
    If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet
    ‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman
    Don’t ask me what I want it for
    If you don’t want to pay some more

  16. You want infrastructure funds, Buttigieg? Talk to Pelosi and Schumer and tell them to pass an infrastructure bill that actually funds instead of oinks.

  17. I used to have to drive 20 miles to work and 20 to get home. I paid all my gas, fees, vehicle repairs and others. My Company was bought out and they got rid of me at the age of 63. It took 2 years of actively looking for a job (Age was against me). Took out a loan to pay off bills. I got a job 40 miles away. Worked until I was 72 to pay off my loan. You want to charge per mile traveled. Driving more miles than I wanted to. I worked all my life and Politicians that are overpaid want me to pay more. You get paid when you travel. No one paid for my traveling 6 and 7 days every week.

    1. A better idea would be to lower the salaries of congress, and place a higher tax on $$ made on the side.
      That would pay for a whole lot of miles, plus it might keep all that hot air blowing around the building. I wouldn’t be surprised if the temperature didn’t cool off 10-20 degrees when our infamous leaders are not in session.

  18. It’s a disaster. Unless government also has a ingenious plan for rural areas, they, who have no public transportation, would be paying for everyone else. It’s fine to use the pay to use excuse, but truckers, taxi, Uber, and others, would be hit in the pocketbook. Truckers are the main distribution factor in the supply and demand. They log a lot of miles. They already pay outrageous user fees just to stay in business. This law would really hurt those who, unlike the cities, have no recourse. A nasty piece of work

  19. Shouldn’t all the corrupt politicians be the ones who pay more since all the time they’re flying in their private jets does a lot more pollution than fossil fuel vehicles

  20. The very second someone figures out how to bypass the Butt-Gag mileage thing in new the cars, I’ll install one. The Govt has just become lost and plain corrupt. I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to get around this tax, other taxes and any new gun laws etc etc. I love my country can’t stand the government that runs it.

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