Staged Bicycle Ride to White House Caps Off Turbulent Week For USDOT Secretary
Washington D.C. – A staged bicycle ride to the White House on Thursday capped off a turbulent week for United States Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
Sec. Buttigieg, who became an inside the Beltway media darling during his failed presidential bid in 2020, has been among the most high-profile cabinet members during the early days of the Biden Administration.
However, in the last week, multiple missteps have drawn intense backlash and even downright mockery from many Americans.
The trouble for Mr. Butttigieg began during an appearance on CNBC on March 26, in which he signaled support for a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) tax as a means to pay for infrastructure improvements.
“I think a [VMT tax] shows a lot of promise if we believe in that so-called ‘user pays principle’… the idea that part of how we pay for roads is you pay based on how much you drive,” Sec. Buttigieg stated.
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A VMT tax remains deeply unpopular among millions of Americans due in part because of privacy concerns about being tracked by their government and the inefficiencies with regard to the costs of implementing and collecting the tax.
The public outrage was swift prompting the USDOT to clarify Sec. Buttigieg’s statement the following day in hopes of quelling any further fallout.
Then came Thursday’s staged bike ride to the White House for the Biden Administration’s first meeting of the full cabinet.
What was supposed to be an event to promote bicycling as an eco-friendly alternative to fossil fuel-powered vehicles, quickly became a public relations blunder.
Instead of Sec. Buttigieg biking from the USDOT building to the White House (approximately 2.7 miles), he was caught by a video journalist just a few blocks from the White House exiting a gas guzzling SUV and hopping on a bike.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg biked to the White House for today’s Cabinet Meeting, it would appear. pic.twitter.com/XfYRB3COqm
— DJ Judd (@DJJudd) April 1, 2021
The video clip quickly went viral and a flood of mockery ensued.
Sec. Buttigieg seemingly embraced the botched photo-op and took to Twitter to double down.
“Great way to get around!” he wrote.
Great way to get around! https://t.co/UdDdhxBgnD
— Secretary Pete Buttigieg (@SecretaryPete) April 2, 2021
The Secretary is one of five Biden Administration cabinet members tasked with leading the effort to sell its newly unveiled $2+ trillion infrastructure spending and tax plan to Congress and the public.
He made another round of television appearances on Sunday to do just that again calling the plan a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”