Skip to main content

President Obama wants to fund trains and self-driving cars with a new oil tax

President Obama wants to fund trains and self-driving cars with a new oil tax

/

An awesome idea that's already DOA

Share this story

President Barack Obama has refreshingly made the future of transportation a hallmark of his final year in office. Today, he announced his plan to take those efforts a step further by including $300 billion worth of investments in mass transit, autonomous vehicles, clean energy, and high-speed rail in his soon-to-be-released budget. And to pay for it, he is calling for a $10-per-barrel tax on oil, a proposal that has effectively zero chance of passing the Republican-controlled Congress.

It's a bummer that the president's plan is dead on arrival, because taxing oil at $10-a-barrel would help make up for the fact that neither Congress nor Obama insisted on paying for the recently passed five-year, $305 billion infrastructure spending bill by increasing the gas tax. As I wrote last December:

As many expected, Congress and the president failed to increase the gas tax, which provides most of the money for the highway bill and hasn't changed since the mid-'90s. A dollar in 1993 is worth only 60 cents today. If the gas tax had kept up with inflation, it would be 30 cents a gallon today and pull in nearly twice the amount of revenue, or $68 billion rather than $34 billion. In other words, they are leaving billions and billions on the table by opting for the politically expedient move of leaving the gas tax untouched.

Still, it's a bold plan, and one that is totally in line with Obama's aggressive stance on fuel efficiency, greenhouse gases, and climate change. It also matches up with his administration's growing interest in future modes of transportation. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx recently unveiled a 10-year, $4 billion plan to incentivize the development of self-driving cars. And this month, Foxx showed up at Elon Musk's Hyperloop design contest at Texas A&M University, where he called the levitating, tube-based transportation system a possible "moonshot."
The president's plan would dedicate $20 billion toward "subways, buses, light rail, freight rail modernization projects, and a major expansion of the high-speed rail," Politico says. Another $10 billion would be doled out to the states to encourage smarter infrastructure projects, especially those that decrease carbon emissions. And $2 billion would be put toward clean transportation R&D, like self-driving cars, electric vehicles, and greener airplanes.

Obama tried to sweeten the chances of his oil-barrel tax proposal by phasing it in over five years and adding incentives for low-income families and Northeastern households to move away from heating oil. But the idea of a GOP-controlled Congress approving a plan — any plan really — by Obama to raise taxes is pretty much unfathomable.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed An hour ago The tablet didn’t call that play by itself

E
Twitter
Emma RothAn hour ago
Missing classic Mario?

One fan, who goes by the name Metroid Mike 64 on Twitter, just built a full-on 2D Mario game inside Super Mario Maker 2 complete with 40 levels and eight worlds.

Looking at the gameplay shared on Twitter is enough to make me want to break out my SNES, or at least buy Super Mario Maker 2 so I can play this epic retro revamp.


R
External Link
Russell BrandomAn hour ago
The US might still force TikTok into a data security deal with Oracle.

The New York Times says the White House is still working on TikTok’s Trump-era data security deal, which has been in a weird limbo for nearly two years now. The terms are basically the same: Oracle plays babysitter but the app doesn’t get banned. Maybe it will happen now, though?


Asian America learns how to hit back

The desperate, confused, righteous campaign to stop Asian hate

Esther Wang12:00 PM UTC
R
Youtube
Richard LawlerTwo hours ago
Don’t miss this dive into Guillermo del Toro’s stop-motion Pinocchio flick.

Andrew Webster and Charles Pulliam-Moore covered Netflix’s Tudum reveals (yes, it’s going to keep using that brand name) over the weekend as the streamer showed off things that haven’t been canceled yet.

Beyond The Way of the Househusband season two news and timing information about two The Witcher projects, you should make time for this incredible behind-the-scenes video showing the process of making Pinocchio.


E
External Link
Emma Roth4:13 PM UTC
Netflix’s gaming bet gets even bigger.

Even though fewer than one percent of Netflix subscribers have tried its mobile games, Netflix just opened up another studio in Finland after acquiring the Helsinki-based Next Games earlier this year.

The former vice president of Zynga Games, Marko Lastikka, will serve as the studio director. His track record includes working on SimCity BuildIt for EA and FarmVille 3.


A
External Link
Andrew J. Hawkins3:37 PM UTC
Vietnam’s EV aspirant is giving big Potemkin village vibes

Idle equipment, absent workers, deserted villages, an empty swimming pool. VinFast is Vietnam’s answer to Tesla, with the goal of making 1 million EVs in the next 5-6 years to sell to customers US, Canada and Europe. With these lofty goals, the company invited a bunch of social media influencers, as well as some auto journalists, on a “a four-day, multicity extravaganza” that seemed more weird than convincing, according to Bloomberg.


J
James Vincent3:17 PM UTC
Today, 39 years ago, the world didn’t end.

And it’s thanks to one man: Stanislav Petrov, a USSR military officer who, on September 26th, 1983, took the decision not to launch a retaliatory nuclear attack against the US. Petrov correctly guessed that satellite readings showing inbound nukes were faulty, and so likely saved the world from nuclear war. As journalist Tom Chivers put it on Twitter, “Happy Stanislav Petrov Day to those who celebrate!” Read more about Petrov’s life here.


Soviet Colonel who prevented 1983 nuclear response
Photo by Scott Peterson/Getty Images
J
The Verge
James Vincent3:03 PM UTC
Deepfakes were made for Disney.

You might have seen the news this weekend that the voice of James Earl Jones is being cloned using AI so his performance as Darth Vader in Star Wars can live on forever.

Reading the story, it struck me how perfect deepfakes are for Disney — a company that profits from original characters, fans' nostalgia, and an uncanny ability to twist copyright law to its liking. And now, with deepfakes, Disney’s most iconic performances will live on forever, ensuring the magic never dies.


E
External Link
Elizabeth Lopatto2:41 PM UTC
Hurricane Fiona ratcheted up tensions about crypto bros in Puerto Rico.

“An official emergency has been declared, which means in the tax program, your physical presence time is suspended,” a crypto investor posted on TikTok. “So I am headed out of the island.” Perhaps predictably, locals are furious.


R
The Verge
Richard Lawler2:09 PM UTC
Teen hacking suspect linked to GTA 6 leak and Uber security breach charged in London.

City of London police tweeted Saturday that the teenager arrested on suspicion of hacking has been charged with “two counts of breach of bail conditions and two counts of computer misuse.”

They haven’t confirmed any connection with the GTA 6 leak or Uber hack, but the details line up with those incidents, as well as a suspect arrested this spring for the Lapsus$ breaches.


R
The Verge
Richard Lawler1:00 PM UTC
Green light.

Good morning to everyone, except for the intern or whoever prevented us from seeing how Microsoft’s Surface held up to yet another violent NFL incident.

Today’s big event is the crash of a NASA spaceship this evening — on purpose. Mary Beth Griggs can explain.


D
David Pierce12:54 PM UTC
Thousands and thousands of reasons people love Android.

“Android fans, what are the primary reasons why you will never ever switch to an iPhone?” That question led to almost 30,000 comments so far, and was for a while the most popular thing on Reddit. It’s a totally fascinating peek into the platform wars, and I’ve spent way too much time reading through it. I also laughed hard at “I can turn my text bubbles to any color I like.”