Oberstar backtracks on vehicle-miles charge, aide says press "mistook" him
US House Transportation chair Rep James Oberstar is attempting to backtrack from his recent advocacy of swift action to institute a national vehicle-miles charge. He has had an aide claim the press "mistook" him.
The aide John Schadl put out a statement this week as follows:
"It seems that some members of the press mistook Mr Oberstar’s questions and observations about the VMT [Vehicle Miles Traveled] as statements of policy, when he was actually gathering information. Hearings are structured to allow members of Congress to explore ideas by listening to testimony and asking questions that probe for the best solutions. As chairman, that is the spirit Mr Oberstar brings to his committee room and the task of drafting a transportation bill that meets the nation’s needs.”
The press mistook nothing.
In a congressional hearing April 29 Oberstar clearly stated a desire to implement a vehicle miles charge, expressing impatience with his colleague Earl Blumenauer's suggestion of more pilot programs
Here are his words in context, in full, and unedited:
Blumenauer: "In pursuit of more resources and for the future I strongly urge that you include in this bill an expanded pilot project on vehicle miles traveled. We've been pioneering that work in oregon. Please help us extend it to all fifty states so that together we can design a transportation funding program for the future."
Oberstar: "Why do we need a pilot program? Why don't we just phase this in? It is going to be done. It is something we have to do. Why not just move it ahead. I think it can be done... There are many suggestions it will take five or ten years. I think it can be done far less than that, maybe two years."
Confirming his interest in implementation he went on to suggest his colleague DeFazio organize a meeting of experts and congressmen "to work out an implementation program."
see earlier report including full transcript of the exchange:
COMMENT: James Oberstar could have said simply: "I am now having second thoughts about early implementation a vehicle-miles charge that I proposed in remarks during the Committee hearing April 29. On further reflection I think we need more discussion and study before moving to implement."
Instead he sends out a flack to do the he-was-mistook routine.
We don't want to single out Oberstar. Blaming others for having "mistook" is a common mode of political behavior when changing one's stance in the US Congress and other political venues.
Normal people change their minds and they don't see a need to cover it up in a cloud of lies. They just say: "Look I've reconsidered..."
Politics however seems to attract the compulsive liars, people who lie even when the truth is perfectly defensible. No wonder they feel a need to call one another "The Honorable" and similar preposterous modes of address - editor.