Tuesday, June 10, 2008

More stupid gas tax politics

The gas tax issue really gets me worked up, because it's one of those things that the general public just might get fooled by. No one likes taxes, much less taxes on gas, the price of which has skyrocketed. So when politicians talk about suspending taxes on gas, it strikes me as a position that could gain some traction with ordinary people.

The only problem is that it is the very definition of a cynical pander, as I explained in this post. Steve Benen is also pretty annoyed:

I just find it hard to believe we’re still talking about this obvious nonsense.

With gas prices reaching a national average of four dollars a gallon — a record high — John McCain is planning to resurrect his call for a national gas tax holiday, which became a staple of his stump speech in late April and early May.

A McCain aide told CNN’s Dana Bash on Monday that the Arizona senator planned to plug the gas tax holiday in public statements throughout the day as a message to voters that he understands the plight of working families in a tough economy.

Before a fundraiser in Richmond, Virginia on Monday, McCain mentioned the gas tax holiday in remarks to a smaller event for about 40 high-dollar donors. “That was derided by Sen. Obama and others as a gimmick,” McCain said, but added that working people and truckers would appreciate it.

McCain apparently conceded that his proposal wouldn’t solve the problem, but according to the CNN report, McCain believes “low-income families could save some extra cash to pay for their children’s school supplies this fall, or perhaps treat themselves to a nice dinner.”

This is just too ridiculous for words. McCain wants to eliminate the 18.4-cent a gallon federal gas tax over the summer. This would cost the Highway Trust Fund between $9 billion and $11 billion. McCain hasn’t said whether he’d just increase the deficit to make up the difference, or just let the transportation money disappear, costing thousands of jobs.

And what would consumers get in return? Nothing. Putting aside the volatility in oil prices, and the fact that the cost of a glass of gas will probably go up over the summer regardless of federal taxes, Americans won’t actually be in a position to save any money if the gas tax is temporarily repealed. McCain may not be the sharpest crayon in the box, but he almost certainly realizes this.

Obama needs to hammer him on this issue. He needs to make it very clear that all McCain is proposing is more profits for the oil companies, and less funds for the maintenance of America's decrepit infrastructure.

And what is McCain's position on gas prices? (other than the brilliant gas tax "holiday")

John McCain Will Help Americans Hurting From High Gasoline And Food Costs.
Americans need relief right now from high gas prices. John McCain will act
immediately to reduce the pain of high gas prices.
How exactly this will be accomplished is not explained. Really, most of McCain's policy briefs are like this. "John McCain will act immediately to fix ______." How? Doesn't matter, just trust him.

In contrast, check out Obama's detailed policy pages on every issue.

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