Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Gas Tax Holiday Political Gimmick

obama is the only one making sense on this "holiday," separating himself from the panderers.
oregonian: Sen. John McCain's idea to give Americans a summer holiday from federal gas taxes is about as weighty as a Barbie Dream Car, yet he can't stop driving it into the ground.

Neither can Sen. Hillary Clinton. The two presidential contenders can't resist the chance to pander to voters and, as a bonus, paint Sen. Barack Obama as an elitist. By doing so, they're missing an opportunity to show leadership on some major long-term challenges -- such as updating the nation's crowded roads and aging bridges.

In a speech on April 15, McCain proposed that the federal government suspend the 18.4-cent-per-gallon gas tax and the 24.4-cent-per-gallon diesel tax between Memorial Day and Labor Day. He painted the idea as tax relief for ordinary Americans and as a stimulus for the ailing economy.

McCain's idea is problematic on several levels. First, it would begin and end several months before the next president takes office, so it's more of a thought balloon than a plan. Second, the tax relief would save the typical American family only about $40 per car, while also siphoning $10 billion from the cash-strapped federal highway fund.

What's more, leading economists say the tax break would do little to lower the prices at the pump. More likely, the slightly lower prices would lead to higher demand, which would push the prices back up, allowing oil companies to make more money while federal tax coffers go hungry.

This is an election-year sop, not a plan for the future. Yet the millionaire senator and presumptive Republican nominee has stuck with it, using it as shorthand to call Obama -- who opposes the tax holiday -- out of touch with ordinary Americans.

"Obviously," McCain said Sunday while campaigning in Florida, " Senator Obama does not understand that this would be a nice thing for Americans."

Clinton piled on as well.

"My opponent Senator Obama opposes giving consumers a break on the gas tax at the federal level," she told supporters in North Carolina on Monday. "I support it. I understand the American people need some relief."

We agree with Obama on this issue. He calls it a short-term fix that benefits oil companies rather than consumers, and says it creates the illusion of leadership without actual change. But we also expect more from McCain, an independent thinker who rarely resorts to such political gimmicks. more