LaHood: Administration Not in Favor of Taxing Drivers by the Mile

May 25, 2011 - 3:18 PM

Ray LaHood

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009, before a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing on combating distracted driving. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

(CNSNews.com) -- Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was adamant in telling CNSNews.com on Wednesday that the Obama administration does not favor tracking and taxing Americans for every mile they drive their cars--a so-called Vehicular Miles Traveled (VMT) tax.

LaHood had personally suggested that the administration look at a VMT early in his tenure at the Transportation Department and it had recently been reported that the administration was considering such a tax.

In a Feb. 20, 2009 interview with the Associated Press LaHood said, "We should look at the vehicular miles program where people are actually clocked on the number of miles that they traveled."

"The system," the Associated Press reported then, "would require all cars and trucks be equipped with global satellite positioning technology, a transponder, a clock and other equipment to record how many miles a vehicle was driven, whether it was driven on highways or secondary roads, and even whether it was driven during peak traffic periods or off-peak hours. The device would tally how much tax motorists owed depending upon their road use."

At that time, LaHood's suggestion for a VMT was almost instantly shotdown by the White House with then-Spokesman Robert Gibbs saying at the next day's press briefing that a VMT "is not and will not be the policy of the Obama administration."

President Obama had then just signed his $787 billion economic stimulus plan and the White House was looking ahead to his efforts to revamp the nation's health care system.

Earlier this month, however, both The Hill newspaper and Transportation Weekly reported that the administration had included a form of the Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax in its proposed Transportation Opportunities Act, which it was circulating in draft form.

Today, when LaHood held a joint press conference with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, CNSNews.com asked him about the VMT.

"I’m not in favor of that," LaHood said before the question was even finished. "Listen to me very carefully, OK. I am not in favor, the administration is not in favor of vehicle miles traveled."

"But, Mr. Secretary, should America rule out ever putting GPS systems in people’s cars and tracking the amount of miles they drive?" asked CNSNews.com.

"This administration is not in favor of vehicle miles traveled," said LaHood.

When asked what his personal view on the matter was, LaHood said, "Anybody else have a question?"

Before becoming secretary of transportation in the Obama administration, LaHood was a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois.