President Joe Biden campaigned in large part on his promise that he would resist tax hikes on middle-class voters.
Based on the statements of one top administration nominee, however, the president remains open and amenable to violating that pledge in at least one significant way.
“An intention to work together”
According to Democratic Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, who is Biden’s pick to head the U.S. Department of Commerce, the new administration is potentially willing to raise the tax on gasoline because the federal government “needs funds” to pursue the president’s lofty White House goals.
According to the Daily Caller, Raimondo’s admission came during her confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate in response to a question regarding a potential gas tax hike put forward by Pete Buttigieg, Biden’s nominee to serve as transportation secretary.
Of course, gasoline taxes are paid by all motorists, in particular working-class Americans who travel for work or have long commutes.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) posed a query seeking to determine how the Biden administration would pay for its proposed initiative on climate change and related transportation infrastructure.
“The document I signed — by the way it was bipartisan, Republican and Democratic governors — was an intention to work together with our legislators to develop a transportation climate initiative, so it’s very early in that process,” Raimondo replied.
“The average American family”
In reference to Buttigieg’s openness to raising the gas tax, which Scott described as “something that would impact the poorest families in our country significantly,” the senator asked Raimondo where she stood on the issue as well as how it might affect her ability to lead the Commerce Department.
The nominee attempted to skirt the issue, stating that she “would defer to Congress to make that decision,” although she acknowledged that as a governor she is “deeply in touch with how much increasing bills affect the average American family.”
Nevertheless, she pointed out the Biden administration’s assertion that “we do need to meet the climate change challenge and we need funds for improved infrastructure — better roads, safer roads, safer bridges — which also creates jobs.”
The apparent support for a higher gas tax among Biden’s key nominees appears to fly in the face of his repeated insistence that working-class individuals and families would not see a tax increase under his administration.
“Nobody making under 400,000 bucks would have their taxes raised,” he said in May, according to CNBC. “Period. Bingo. Let’s get people back to work. Let’s get them to work.”