Susan Collins is very concerned that people who drive electric cars don't pay gas tax

Susan Collins is very concerned that people who drive electric cars don't pay gas tax
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New idea for a drinking game: Every time Susan Collins says she's concerned about something, drink an 18-gallon Rubbermaid tub full of yak phlegm and battery acid.

The latest thing she's concerned about? Paying for Joe Biden's ambitious infrastructure plans. And, no, she's not thinking about a moderate rollback of Donald Trump's plutocrat-friendly tax scam, which led corporations across the country to engage in stock buybacks and other economic wheel-spinning ventures. Oh, no. She wants to … erm … tax people who are going out of their way to help save the planet.

On the June 13 installment of Face the Nation, hosted by John Dickerson, Collins regaled us all with her hoary reasonable-Republican shtick—and yet there was scant reason to be found anywhere in her comments. Discussing various ways to pay for crucial investments in a 21st century clean-energy economy, Collins waved away the obvious solution—making corporations and the already wealthy pay a little more for the infrastructure they rely on to build their silly dragon hoards—in favor of a remarkably stupid alternative. (She explains her "pay-for" scheme at 1:25.)

DICKERSON: "And what about the sticky question about how to pay for all of this? I've heard there's reports that it might include a gas tax increase?"

COLLINS: "There won't be a gas tax increase, and we won't be undoing the 2017 tax reform bill. Let me talk about three of the pay-fors. One is the implementation of an infrastructure financing authority. That's very similar to the state revolving funds that we used for sewer and water projects, and it's a bipartisan proposal that was first put forth by Sens. Mark Warner and Roy Blunt. A second would be to repurpose some of the COVID funding that has not been spent in the $1.9 trillion package that was enacted in March. There were restrictions on what the funding could be used for. It could be used for water, sewer, and broadband. We would make it more flexible so it could be used for infrastructure projects. And third, there would be a provision for electric vehicles to pay their fair share of using our roads and bridges. Right now they are literally free riders because they're not paying any gas tax."

Okay, this is a gobsmackingly stupid idea. Yes, people who drive EVs obviously don't pay gas taxes, which help pay for a lot of roads and bridges. But most people agree that electric cars are the wave of the future, and if we're going to successfully transition to a clean-energy economy, we need to encourage as many people as possible to use them. That means making electric vehicles more appealing, not less. We're in a climate emergency, and what Collins is proposing would be a little like taxing people's COVID shots and face masks while charging them a nominal fee to wash their hands.

But, hey, we need a "reasonable" way out of this impasse—which naturally can't include slightly increasing the tax rates of the ultra-wealthy, even though that's exactly what most Americans want.

Mainers, what on Gaia's verdurous spinning space globule were you thinking when you returned this glitching, bromide-besotted Furby to the Senate? One more Democratic senator sure would have been nice, huh? In fact, it would have gone a long way toward saving this planet.

But hey, you can rest assured that when Kennebunkport is under water, Collins' "concern" will be off the charts—as will a not-insignificant number of Maine's coastal communities.


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