October 4, 2023

The White House is considering a variety of options – including a road mileage tax – to fund the billions in infrastructure proposals, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Friday.

Buttigieg, speaking with CNBC’s Kayla Tausche, also argued that President Joe Biden’s upcoming plans to rebuild U.S. roads, bridges, and waterways would result in a net gain for the U.S. taxpayer, rather than a net expense.

“When you think of infrastructure, this is a classic example of the type of investment that comes out of that investment,” he said. “That is one of many reasons why we think this is so important. This is a job vision as well as an infrastructure vision, a climate vision and much more.”

He also discussed various potential revenue generating options to fund the project. He spoke fondly of a mileage tax that would tax travelers on how far they travel rather than how much gasoline they use.

Democrats have slowly moved away from a gasoline tax while at the same time climate-friendly efforts have been made to encourage consumers to drive electric cars.

Pete Buttigieg speaks at the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation nomination hearings to review his awaited nomination for Secretary of Transportation in Washington.

Ken Cedeno | Reuters

“I hear a lot of appetite that there are sustainable flows of funding,” said the transport secretary. A mileage tax “is promising if we believe in what is known as the user pays principle: the idea that you pay part of our road costs depends on how much you drive.”

The Secretary of Transportation’s comments came as President Joe Biden prepares to detail comprehensive infrastructure proposals that could cost $ 3-4 trillion during a trip to Pittsburgh next week.

In his first presidency press conference Thursday, Biden said rebuilding the U.S.’s physical and technological infrastructure was his next priority, which is vital not only to restore the economy but also to stay competitive with competitors like China.

Buttigieg added Friday that the White House is considering reviving Build America Bonds, a special class of municipal bonds first introduced in the Obama administration whose interest bills are funded by the US Treasury Department.

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BABs show “great promise in terms of the way we use this type of funding. There have also been ideas about things like a national infrastructure bank.”

His remarks on Friday came a day after he asked Congress on Thursday to make a “generational investment” to improve the country’s roads, bridges and waterways and to tackle climate change and racial inequality.

“It is almost universally accepted that a larger recovery requires a national commitment to repair and remodel American infrastructure,” Buttigieg told the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.