TPS's Ohio correspondent Rob Holub sends along this piece of economic idiocy, courtesy of the good state of Ohio's congressional delegation. In short, U.S. Rep. Steve LaTourette has proposed the "Commuter Relief and Fuel Efficiency Act of 2008," which would reimburse commuters at the rate of 4 cents per mile (5 cents if you've got a car that gets 35 mpg) for up to thirty miles per day, round trip, five days a week, and with the maximum of 50 weeks, the most one person could get is $375 per year.
Seems like a good time for a reflexive argument here. If the proponent says that it's going to make a big difference, ask where the money is going to come from. (Take from the left pocket to put into the right pocket's gas fund.) If the proponent says that it's not actually a lot of money, then why do it in the first place?
Of course, this is on the national level, so we'd have some redistribution here. Those that would benefit most would have large car-commuting populations. I suppose a lot of places have that, but New York and Chicago would seem to have a proportionately smaller number of these with regards to the whole population. Seasonal employment wouldn't get as much of a benefit either since they couldn't claim all 50 weeks-- I know that would harm West Virginia.
Question: Would anyone claim less than the max amount here? How is this going to be monitored? Are they going to Google Maps everyone's work and home for the round trip distance? What about people that get their miles covered as part of their job-- could they just pocket the $375?
I don't think this will pass, but stranger things have happened.