By Monica Showalter
Joe Biden’s transportation secretary nominee, Pete Buttigieg, was all over the map at his confirmation hearings.
According to MarketWatch, emphasis mine:
Speaking at his confirmation hearing with his husband sitting nearby, Buttigieg pointed to a “generational opportunity” to create new jobs, fight economic inequality and stem climate change. Often sidestepping specifics, Buttigieg hinted at a broad climate-centric role for the department that will require significant investments, on top of Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan.
“We need to build our economy back, better than ever, and the Department of Transportation can play a central role in this,” the 39-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, told the Senate Commerce Committee.
He indicated he would reverse a Trump administration rollback in federal automotive fuel economy standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, work to stiffen oversight of aviation safety as the troubled Boeing 737 Max makes its return to the skies and encourage use of electric vehicles, such as by adding a half-million charging stations nationwide.
Buttigieg did not specify where money could come from for big investments in infrastructure, and wouldn’t rule out a tax increase. He floated the possibility of a major change in how highways are funded, such as by converting from the current Highway Trust Fund, which is paid for through the gas tax, to a “vehicle miles traveled” alternative that would tax drivers based on their road mileage.
According to the account of the same hearings by Roll Call, which seemed to be on damage control duty for the Biden administration, Buttigieg’s people walked the tax talk back, but not exactly. The record of the hearing seems to be the reality.
Two things stand out: Buttigieg wants a tax hike for gasoline to fund his so-called infrastructure projects. Who will pay those taxes? Those who drive. And if someone needs to drive a lot, such as an independent truck-driver or a low-wage service worker who can’t afford to live in the blue city center, but instead makes due with a commute on the outskirts of town, the tax becomes regressive. The tax is the same for the rich or poor, and maybe the rich can afford it. But the poor live on a low margin — the tax will likely cut to the bone for the poor, forcing them to go without, say, in food supplies or other necessities. Tax hikes that are the same and unavoidably hit the poor the hardest.
The hearing also notes that Buttigieg likes the Big Brother solution, to tax people based on miles driven. Besides being amazingly intrusive, hooking worker cars up like guinea pigs to the meters, it’s also another big regressive tax that will hit the poor hardest. See, those wicked, wicked poor, out in places like Sun Valley and Lancaster, commuting to a job to downtown Los Angeles because they can’t afford the L.A. rents, really should be paying more for the privilege of driving several hours to work and living out in the sticks. And don’t imagine that buses are practical with those huge distances. L.A. is spread out, quite unlike Manhattan. And this isn’t just the poor, but the middle class, the people who are able to buy homes in West Covina, Cerritos, or Lake Elsinore, but not Midtown or Culver City. Hollywood movie stars and hedge fund managers who live in Santa Monica or the Hollywood Hills won’t feel a thing, but too bad about the guys coming in to serve them from Ontario, San Dimas, and Pacoima.
And as a side note, these regressive tax hikes for so-called infrastructure projects will likely be the kind that never happen, because if experience is any indicator, the funds will get diverted to other leftist priorities, which don’t include quality of life for the general public. That, in any case, is what happened in the tax-for-infrastructure deal over in the Biden administration’s model state of California. The taxpayers got nothing in the way of promised infrastructure repairs for their tax hike. The money just went to hobby-horse greenie projects. I wrote about that here.
Note that Buttigieg says he intends to put out more (gas-fueled) electrical car charging stations for these regressive tax hikes on the poor. How many poor people does he know who drive electric cars? Call it energy privilege, see — too bad about the poor.
Meanwhile, another big regressive Biden tax on the poor is already occurring, with Biden’s already signed cancelation of the Keystone XL pipeline, as well as prohibitions on drilling and fracking on federal lands. Such a move likely made greenie billionaire Tom Steyer happy, but it was terrible news for the poor.
The Ute Indian Tribe of Uintah and Ouray reservations near Four Corners area has fought poverty through energy development, and blasted the prohibition on federal lands. American Indians on reservations, after all, are among the very poorest Americans. Energy development had been their lifeline, helping to support their culture, language, and way of life. The pipeline’s shutdown is also a nasty muscle-in on the Indian nations’ sovereignty, the Ute leaders noted, noting that nobody consulted them. For all of us, it’s Big Government against the little guy, in the same league as the Big Brother move on impoverished and middle-class commuters.
Indian nations in North Dakota and Michigan are also reportedly alarmed at the shutdowns, with some issuing condemnations. Sound like a place full of rich people? Don’t think so.
In New Mexico, a state with a lot of poverty, there’s this:
Officials in the state of New Mexico professed to be taken aback last week by President Joe Biden’s day-one decision to impose a 60-day moratorium on all oil and gas-related leasing and permitting actions on federal lands. It is a decision that will have major ramifications on the state budgets of New Mexico and other Western states, especially if it is extended beyond its initial term and backed up by Biden’s promised ban on hydraulic fracturing on federal lands.
As for the Keystone XL shutdown, the flyover states with few rich hedge fund managers, movie stars, or Beltway barons are hardest hit.
From Montana, it was a bipartisan rain of hellfire after Joe Biden with a stroke of the pen canceled the Keystone XL pipeline:
Montana Senator Steve Daines issued this statement: “It’s only day one, and with the stroke of a pen, Biden has already taken steps to kill American energy projects like the Keystone XL Pipeline which is critical to energy producing states like Montana,” Daines said. “This project will create thousands of jobs, generate tax revenue for local communities, promote North American energy security and independence, and it is the safest and most environmentally friendly way to transport oil. We must do all that we can to ensure construction moves forward.”
Congressman Matt Rosendale had this statement: “I sent a letter to the President-Elect before he was even inaugurated asking him to please reconsider this job killing action and his actions yesterday are going to have horrible consequences for Montana’s economy and our nation’s security,” said Rosendale. “I mean, we’re going to lose jobs. We’re going to lose an incredible amount of tax revenue through some of the most rural counties that are located within the state.”
Governor Greg Gianforte asked Biden to ‘cut through the malarkey and reconsider his decision’.
“A symbolic gesture for your fledgling, hours-old administration, this decision has real and devastating consequences in Montana. With your executive order, gone are the thousands of good-paying American jobs, hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to support our local communities and schools, the opportunity to advance America’s green energy infrastructure, and America’s energy security,” Governor Gianforte wrote.
From Nebraska, this:
“Keystone XL is a critical part of putting together an all-of-the-above strategy for North American energy independence,” said Gov. [Pete] Ricketts. “Failure to construct the pipeline would mean more dependence on overseas energy sources as well as fewer jobs and less property tax relief for Nebraskans. This is a project that would greatly benefit not just Nebraska but also our whole country, and it is our hope that TC Energy presses forward.”
And South Dakota, this:
“I’m very disappointed,” [Gov. Kristi] Noem said on Thursday. “I think it’s the wrong policy on energy, it’s the wrong policy on the environment, and it’s the wrong policy on safety. Over the years we’ve debated this pipeline and vetted it on all of those elements.”
This is just Biden getting started out the gate on energy, and as Sen. Ted Cruz noted, he expected there would be a cascade of such energy shutdown maneuvers. Most Americans can tolerate some greenie energy development so long as normal energy can continue apace. The shutdown, though, leaves no safety net for the poor and the workers as the greenie infrastructure and rich-man’s-plaything projects supposedly get off the ground. That leaves a lot of poor hit hard. The Biden energy policies are less than a week old, and the only message they send is that Biden means to make war on the poor.