Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN) came out strongly in favor of a vehicle mileage tax (VMT) yesterday.
Just two months ago Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood floated a similar idea, but was quickly shot down by the Obama Administration.
The VMT was a bad idea in February and it’s a bad idea now. Below is what we wrote when the idea was initially suggested. The analysis is as applicable today as it was then:
The VMT would fund transportation projects and increase conservation by increasing the cost of driving. It is unnecessary, however, because the gas tax already accomplishes these tasks—and is much cheaper to administer. A VMT would be expensive to implement because every car would need to be fitted with a device that both records miles driven and transmits the information to a government database. This complicated system would cost millions and raise concerns of big brother watching our every movement.
Americans don’t like paying the gas tax, but they are sure to be even more unhappy having to deal with the administrative nightmare the VMT promises. Secretary LaHood would be better served coming up with a plan returning responsibility for transportation funding to the states where it rightly belongs.