Sunday Night time Owls: Changing the gasoline tax with one thing that makes 21st Century sense

Pete Buttigieg, now the 19th secretary of transportation, shakes hands with Joe Biden after the Oct. 15, 2019, presidential debate.

Night Owls is a themed open thread appearing at Daily Kos seven days a week.

Gabrielle Gurley at The American Prospect writes—The Long and Winding Road to Replacing the Gas TaxCan Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg convince Congress that road user fees are the next big revenue thing?

Pete Buttigieg has parachuted in for a soft landing at the Department of Transportation. There were no Betsy DeVos-esque moments at the Rhodes Scholar’s confirmation hearing. “You know what the hell you are talking about,” gushed Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, near the end of the former South Bend mayor’s two-and-a-half-hour charm offensive. That offensive has also taken Buttigieg to late-night talk shows and celebrity newsmaker programs, where he’s commiserated about the sad state of American infrastructure and what the Biden administration plans to do about it.

But feel-good television blots out the problems of a sector cracking under the weight of early-21st-century inaction. There is a stunning lack of urgency in Congress about the virtual insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund, which shores up roads and public transit with fuel taxes that were last increased in 1993 and are not indexed to inflation. President Biden and Secretary Buttigieg are on the spot to devise interim measures to address the diminishing returns of gas taxes as cars grow more fuel-efficient and electrification looms—or to come up with something better.

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