While officially nonpartisan, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) occasionally lends its credibility to the most fashionable theories emanating from the left. The agency’s green eyeshades issued a report Wednesday that perpetuates one of Washington’s biggest lies: that drivers don’t pay enough in taxes. Bureaucrats and rent-seeking corporate allies have teamed up to advocate a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. They want continuous tracking of everyone’s driving so that every mile can be taxed.
The claim is that driver’s aren’t paying their fair share because the $35 billion collected in federal gasoline taxes doesn’t cover highway spending. Never mind that a sizable chunk of the Transportation Department’s “highway” funds is diverted into things like mass-transit programs and grants to local police departments to run speed traps. Anyone who owns an automobile knows there’s no end to the registration fees, personal property taxes, state gasoline taxes, inspection fees, parking tickets and other governmental levies on vehicle ownership.
Despite all this nickel and diming, the CBO insists we need to pay more because, “Any given driver’s highway use also imposes costs on other users, on nearby nonusers, on the environment and on the economy in the form of congestion, risk of accidents, noise, emissions of greenhouse gases and pollutants that affect local air quality, and dependence on foreign oil.”
There’s no such thing as a “nonuser” of the road network. America has 208 million licensed drivers out of a population of 240 million of driving age. Only a handful of people depend on the bicycles, buses and trolleys that meet with liberal approval. Everyone benefits from having food and other goods delivered by truck. Motorists are one of the most overtaxed groups in America, and the automobile has done more to enable this country’s economic success than any other invention.