Buttigieg floats gas tax hike despite concern about regressive impact

Buttigieg floats gas tax hike despite concern about regressive impact

Transportation
Secretary
nominee Pete
Buttigieg
expressed
an
openness to
a
federal

gas
tax
increase
in
order
to
pump
more
money
into
the
suffering
Highway
Trust
Fund.

During
his
confirmation
hearing
on
Thursday,
the
former
mayor
of
South
Bend,
Ind.,
was
asked
about
a
tax
hike
to
help
fund
infrastructure
by
Sen.

Rick
Scott,
R-Fla.


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“Well,
I
think
all
options
need
to
be
on
the
table,”
Buttigieg
said.
“As
you
know,
the
gas
tax
has
not
been
increased
since
1993,
and
it’s
never
been
pegged
to
inflation.
And
it’s
one
of
the
reasons
why
the
current
state
of
the
Highway
Trust
Fund
is
that
there’s
more
going
out
than
coming
in.”

Buttigieg
noted
that
funding
transfers
have
helped
make
up
the
difference,
but
questioned
whether
Congress
would
keep
doing
that.
He
said
that
for
now,
the
U.S.
needs
“a
solution
that
can
provide
some
predictability
and
sustainability.”

While
he
did
not
rule
out
doing
this
through
a
gas
tax
increase,
Buttigieg
did
question
how
viable
this
approach
might
be
in
the
future
if
the
country
moves
toward electric
cars.


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“In
the
long
term,
we
need
to
bear
in
mind
also
that
as
vehicles
become
more
efficient
and
as
we
pursue
electrification,
sooner
or
later
there
will
be
questions
about
whether
the
gas
tax
can
be
effective
at
all,”
he
said.

Transportation Secretary nominee Pete Buttigieg speaks during a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Washington. (Ken Cedeno/Pool via AP)

Transportation
Secretary
nominee
Pete
Buttigieg
speaks
during
a
Senate
Commerce,
Science
and
Transportation
Committee
confirmation
hearing
on
Capitol
Hill,
Thursday,
Jan.
21,
2021,
in
Washington.
(Ken
Cedeno/Pool
via
AP)

((Ken
Cedeno/Pool
via
AP))

“In
the
short
to
medium
term,”
however,
Buttigieg
said
that
a
solution “could
mean
revisiting
the
gas
tax,
adjusting
it,
and/or
connecting
it
to
inflation.”

Sen.
Mike
Lee,
R-Utah,
brought
up
the
gas
tax again
later
in
the
hearing,
asking
if
the
U.S.
has
“overextended”
itself
with
the
Highway
Trust
Fund.
Buttigieg
said
there
is
“a
recognition
that
we
don’t
have
adequate
national
resources
going
into
roads
and
highways,”
adding
that
“we
need
to
look
into
any
responsible,
viable
revenue
mechanism
we
can
all
agree
on
to
do
something
about
that.”

When
asked
if
this
might
include
raising
the
gas
tax,
Buttigieg
remained
noncommittal,
but
would
not
rule
it
out.

“Well
it’s
possible,”
he
said.
“Certainly
many
states
have
taken
that
step,
including
my
own,
but
it’s
not
the
only
approach.”

Under
questioning
from
Lee,
Buttigieg
acknowledged
that
the
gas
tax
could
have
a
disproportionate
effect
on
the
poor.

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“Certainly
one
of
the
concerns
with
the
gas
tax
is
it’s
likely
not
as
progressive
as
the
federal
income
tax,
for
example,”
Buttigieg
said.

A
federal
gas
tax
hike
has
been
discussed
for
years.
Members
of
both
parties
have
supported
it
in
the
past,
and
lawmakers
said
in
2018
that
former
President
Donald
Trump
had
been
in
favor
of
a
25-cent
increase.

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