It’s basically an alliance between liberals and the Reason gang to ram through a backdoor carbon tax under the guise of making drivers pay per mile while tracking your driving patterns.
The devices, which track every mile a motorist drives and transmit that information to bureaucrats, are at the center of a controversial attempt in Washington and state planning offices to overhaul the outdated system for funding America’s major roads.
Who wants to bet that the devices and the whole data and personnel infrastructure around them will end up costing more than any funds gained?
The push comes as the country’s Highway Trust Fund, financed with taxes Americans pay at the gas pump, is broke. Americans don’t buy as much gas as they used to. Cars get many more miles to the gallon. The federal tax itself, 18.4 cents per gallon, hasn’t gone up in 20 years. Politicians are loath to raise the tax even one penny when gas prices are high.
So energy efficiency has bankrupted gas taxes? Except we’re told that consumers can’t pay more for gas, which suggests that they aren’t buying less.
There has been a lot of noise about the Highway Trust Fund, due to go bankrupt in 2015, and complaints that gasoline taxes aren’t high enough. Except maybe they’re actually too high and the HTF has been overspending on pet liberal causes.
The original purpose of the HTF was to fund the construction of the interstate highway system. Once the system was mostly complete, lawmakers decided to keep collecting the federal fuel tax that supports the HTF, expand the scope of the federal transportation program, and divert federal user fees to pay for the new programs.
Today, the diversions consist of programs such as transit, environmental mitigation, ferry boats, bicycle paths, and nature trails. In 2010, for example, transit received 17 percent of federal user fees.
Specifically 20 percent of the HTF goes to transit. Amtrak takes a chunk of that. And here’s other places that HTF money has gone to.
Rick Boucher, a Democrat from the southwestern Virginia mountains secured $750,000 of highway money for the “construction of horse trails and assorted facilities” in Jefferson National Forest.
So yes, there are solutions short of putting a taxing Big Brother black box in everyone’s car.
“This really is a must for our nation. It is not a matter of something we might choose to do,” said Hasan Ikhrata, executive director of the Southern California Assn. of Governments.
“Concerns about Big Brother and those sorts of things were a major problem,” said Alauddin Khan, who directs strategic and performance management at the Nevada Department of Transportation.
Nevada is among several states now scrambling to find affordable technology that would allow the state to keep track of how many miles a car is being driven, but not exactly where and at what time. If you can do that, Khan said, the public gets more comfortable.
But this isn’t just about the money, it’s about the Ecoscam.
Libertarians have joined environmental groups in lobbying to allow government to use the little boxes to keep track of the miles you drive, and possibly where you drive them — then use the information to draw up a tax bill.
By libertarians, the LA Times means the Reason gang. But this is all about the Great Ecoscam. It’s a perfect vehicle for a Carbon tax, which is what this really is.