This Week in Congress

The U.S. Senate is out of session until July 12. The House is in session this week, and then will be on recess for a week. After that, they will only be holding hearings until July 17.

The main event in the House this week is H.R. 3684, the INVEST in America Act. The title reminds me of a quip from former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura: “When I hear politicians talk about investment, I feel my pocket being picked.”

This bill is a transportation spending bill intended to be part of the infrastructure package that is a top priority of the Biden administration and congressional Democrats. This bill has little or nothing to do with the bipartisan infrastructure deal announced last week by the Biden administration and a group of “centrist” senators.
Instead, it is the House Democrats opening bid in the forthcoming negotiations over what the transportation part of the big “infrastructure” plan will ultimately contain.

The bill spends $547.9 billion on transportation programs, including money for highways, bridges, public transportation, bike paths, and public art and landscaping projects—yes, the bill considers art and landscaping to be transportation projects that should be supported by the federal government.

The bill also prioritizes spending to “mitigate” the effects of climate change on our nation's infrastructure and the contribution infrastructure spending makes to climate change.

This is a step toward the Green New Deal, the dramatic growth in government spending and control in the name of “saving the environment.”

Another chilling part of the bill is a provision requiring the Department of Transportation “to establish a pilot program to demonstrate a national motor vehicle per-mile user fee...” In other words, the government would assess a tax on you based on how many miles you drive.

This could lead to the government tracking where you drive and how long you stay at any given place.

Some libertarians like this system because they see it as applying the “user pays” principle, since you’re assessed a tax only if you drive. The problem with this is you do not have an opportunity to select what roads you will use based on market competition. Instead, the amount you pay is chosen for you by the government. Plus, there is no guarantee your “fees” will only be used for the roads you actually drive on—much less that the fees will not be used for buses and landscaping projects in cities you will never visit.

Of course, the main problem with this proposal is the power the government will have to keep track of your location and driving habits.  Some of the libertarians that favor this proposal claim that the system can be implemented in a way that protects privacy by simply tracking mileage and not recording addresses. Even if this were true in theory, this is the same US Government that promised the income tax would “only apply to the rich,” the social security number would never be used for non-social security purposes, you can keep your doctor if you like your doctor, and the PATRIOT Act would only be used to target terrorists. So, can we really believe this new mileage surveillance system will only be used to track mileage?

That is why this mileage tax must be opposed by all who value liberty and privacy.

The House will also consider legislation creating a “select committee” to investigate the causes of the incident of January 6 and find out ways to prevent it from happening again. Look out for the committee to recommend increased government surveillance and partnership with Big Tech to stop the spread of extremism—defined as any serious political and/or intellectual challenge to the welfare-warfare state.

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