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And Miles to Go Before We’re Taxed

The green plan to have Uncle Sam watch your odometer.

Jan 21, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 18 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
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A recent GAO study reported that between 2004 and 2008, some $78 billion from the highway trust fund was used for “purposes other than construction and maintenance of highways and bridges.” A 2009 report prepared by the offices of Senators Tom Coburn and John McCain found that “Congress raids the highway trust fund for pet projects while bridges and roads crumble.” For example, states must now spend a certain percentage of their highway trust funds on “transportation enhancement” projects. Eligible “transportation enhancement” categories include the “provision of pedestrian and bicycle facilities,” the “acquisition of scenic or historic easement and sites,” and the “establishment of transportation museums.” In a development to warm the cockles of Rep. Blumenauer’s heart, between 2004 and 2008, $2 billion from the highway trust fund was spent on 5,500 projects for pedestrians and bicycles. Yet again, the dwindling of the highway trust fund—a problem that only a VMT tax can fix!—is a direct result of policies that Blumenauer and his green allies support.

Novelist J. G. Ballard once wrote that the personal car “enshrines a basically old-fashioned idea: freedom.” In a way, critics of the contemporary greens owe Blumenauer a debt of gratitude. A VMT tax, fundamentally, is a punishment for driving, regardless of how many emissions your car spews—and even if it doesn’t spew any at all! By decoupling the hatred for cars from the justifiable hatred of pollution, Blumenauer has confirmed what many critics have long suspected about some of the most zealous greens: It’s not just that they love the planet. They’re suspicious of freedom, too.

Ethan Epstein is an editorial assistant at The Weekly Standard.

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