The Logic and the Costs Behind Clinton’s Gas Tax Proposal

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gas pump twn.jpg
I have heard from Clinton campaign insiders that Hillary Clinton’s gas tax rollback proposal is resonating with voters — particularly the economically besieged in Indiana and North Carolina. She’s offering a classic give away to lure voters — and this is part of the retail politicking that the Clinton campaign is using to dismantle Obama’s sizzle.
But my former boss Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), who chairs the Senate Energy Committee, endorsed Barack Obama last week — and I think that Hillary’s gas tax proposal was part of what put him over the edge. My hunch, knowing Bingaman and his views about nuclear language recklessness, is that Hillary Clinton’s comments about “obliterating Iran” also cost her his superdelegate vote.
An effort is now underway among serious policy intellectuals from both sides of the political aisle to protest the Clinton gas tax rollback notion.
Brookings Institution’s legendary economic policy guru Henry J. “Hank” Aaron is leading the effort — and has issued an open statement signed by some of the nation’s leading public policy voices. It’s a completely non-partisan effort.
The statement reads:

An Open Statement Opposing Proposals for a Gas Tax Holiday
In recent weeks, there have been proposals in Congress and by some presidential candidates to suspend the gas tax for the summer. As economists who study issues of energy policy, taxation, public finance, and budgeting, we write to indicate our opposition to this policy. Put simply, suspending the federal tax on gasoline this summer is a bad idea and we oppose it.
There are several reasons for this opposition. First, research shows that waiving the gas tax would generate major profits for oil companies rather than significantly lowering prices for consumers. Second, it would encourage people to keep buying costly imported oil and do nothing to encourage conservation. Third, a tax holiday would provide very little relief to families feeling squeezed. Fourth, the gas tax suspension would threaten to increase the already record deficit in the coming year and reduce the amount of money going into the highway trust fund that maintains our infrastructure.
Signers of this letter are both Democrats and Republicans. This is not a partisan issue. It is a matter of good public policy.

But I have to post a line from Aaron that gets at what he really thinks of Hillary Clinton’s proposal:

My own view is that in the long and sad annals of truly bad ideas, it is unusual for one to receive bipartisan support at such high levels right in the middle of a campaign as this one has.

— Steve Clemons

Comments

66 comments on “The Logic and the Costs Behind Clinton’s Gas Tax Proposal

  1. Mr.Murder says:

    “In fact, the only scientific study done on the pass-through of the tax holiday savings to Illinois consumers (and those in Indiana, as well, whose citizens enjoyed a similar holiday) found that it actually worked to a large extent.
    The study is titled “$2.00 Gas! Studying the Effects of a Gas Tax Moratorium,” by Joseph J. Doyle Jr. and Krislert Samphantharak. Download the PDF here. The authors concluded that “the suspension of the 5% sales tax led to decreases in retail prices of 3% compared to neighboring states. And when the tax was reinstated, retail prices rose by roughly 4%.”
    This suggests that the tax holiday delivered at least 60 percent of the tax savings to motorists.”
    Eighteen cents is putting eighteen billion back to the economy, and retail prices dropped in comparison to other states.
    We’re looking at roughly a ten-plus percent reduction in the gas price in the two dollar range, this may actually accelerate at higher prices. Add that to the tax rebate itself, now imagine this applied in macro terms.
    Food is cheaper now. Retail margins improve. The extra activity generates increased revenue. Usually a two thirds amount of the original tax based upon sales tax estimates.
    Indeed, it’s pandering.
    Perhaps someone will save enough from a fill-up to buy a paper or magazine where the stenographer class claims this wouldn’t make much impact.
    We will not hold our breath on that, the ratings for all media are spiraling.

    Reply

  2. Mr.Murder says:

    Every one cent raduction in the gas price puts a billion into the economy that day.
    Eighteen billion a day back into the economy.
    This makes no sense to the media, and is called “pandering” by Barack Obama, who voted three times for the same kind of revenue cut in his home state, and he spoke in support of such policy.
    Oy.

    Reply

  3. Kathleen says:

    The gas tax holiday is “coupon economics”, pure Madison Avenue Marketing, like the two rebates.
    There is nothing unusual about bipartisan incumbents handing out peanuts just before elections. Why not hand out CrackerJacks at the polls?
    Hillary could say, Buy one, get one free.

    Reply

  4. Tahoe Editor says:

    Obama Is Wrong About The Gas Tax
    Think Clinton’s plan to suspend the gas tax temporarily is a bad idea? A similar measure in Illinois — which Obama backed — seems to have helped consumers.
    http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2008/05/06/gas_tax/print.html

    Reply

  5. WigWag says:

    I found this comment from bornagaindem on Krugman’s blog. It sums up the difference between Clinton and Obama perfectly.
    Bornagaindem on the gas tax holiday…
    “What this is indicative of is the real difference between Obama and Hillary. When regular Americans are feeling the pinch of an economic downturn you can expect a concrete proposal that will take effect immediately from Hillary and you can expect Obama to talk about your pain and do nothing.”

    Reply

  6. DonS says:

    The thing that drives me mad about this wacky political season is how it takes presumably ordinarily reasonable individuals and turns them into rank partisans; everything, every nuance, no matter how banal or irrelevant is seen through the candidate prism and used as the blunt weapon it usually is.
    Its like this of course all over,including the blogs, and I’ve bascially stopped reading one (unamed), usually reliable blog, because the proprietress has taken such a myoptic stance: Hillary can co no wrong, etc. etc., and Obama is a cur who can do no right, etc., etc. And from the comments she’s lost much of her audience, but picked up a hearty claque.
    Me, being a skeptic, find that serves well in regarding politics and politicians (perhaps most politicians are nominal optimists and extroverts, eh?).
    Here at TWN, Steve seems confoundingly unpredictable, usually an equal opportunity cheerleader or curmudgeon depending on your take. (That is, except for the Hegel, in foreign policy — his other postions being exhaustively and disturbingly highlighted on a previous post — where Steve is clear.)
    So, I like the fact that discussion here, however biting, seems to relegate politics to a mechanism for possible ends, not an end in itself. And politicians? Definitely not to fall in love with.
    Not that there isn’t a good degree of political perspicacity here. And that is great. Its why the denial of such transparent pandering, as some seem to have exhibited on this thread, IMO — complete with bogus rationale — is so demeaning to incisive discussion.

    Reply

  7. Roger says:

    Which is it? Obama winning or Clinton losing? Where have all the
    Clinton and McBush supporters gone? Maybe Steve should invite in
    a few news media folks.

    Reply

  8. Tahoe Editor says:

    MR. EXELON: Corporate America Hearts Obama
    http://www.alternet.org/election08/83890/

    Reply

  9. ces says:

    All of you who think the Clinton two-dimension (relief for all of us;
    removing some corp welfare from energy giants) is pandering
    should give their “economic stimulus” check directly to charity.
    Bush has now given us two checks: post 9-11 and now post-
    cluster-f.-mortgage-domino-crash. I didn’t hear a lot of “ew, but
    it’s pandering.”
    The only reason Obama won’t take money away from the energy
    industry is because of his huge donations from them!
    And gosh, whatever happened to the “trickle” down (of $30-70 to
    each of us) economic plans Reagan-devotees liked to ballyho?.

    Reply

  10. Tahoe Editor says:
  11. Tahoe Editor says:

    I ignore them when I want, I respond when I want. But I do like to respond to the idiotic “go away” messages.
    THE SOFT PANDER from the SOFT CANDIDATE
    http://www.slate.com/blogs/blogs/trailhead/archive/2008/05/05/the-soft-pander.aspx

    Reply

  12. WigWag says:

    Tahoe Editor, your wasting your time responding to these infantile posts. My advice is to ignore them. There are plenty of smart people who comment on this site. There’s no reason to waste your time on those few who equate pyrotechnics with intelligence.

    Reply

  13. Tahoe Editor says:

    Somehow I don’t think calling everyone outside the McGovern-Kerry-Kennedy-MoveOn-Michael Moore-Tsongas-Dukakis bubble “stupid” is a winning proposition.

    Reply

  14. arthurdecco says:

    Don S, said: “Tahoe, I thought you rather too intelligent to be pandered to, but again I am proven wrong…
    …my last comment should have been addressed to wigwag as well. Pardon.”
    Don S, From Sage, my computer’s dictionary:
    “Intelligent”: adjective
    1. Having the capacity for thought and reason especially to a high degree.
    2. Endowed with the capacity to reason.
    3. Exercising or showing good judgement.
    4. Possessing sound knowledge.
    I’ve found little evidence of the capacity for thought or reason, good judgement or sound knowledge in Tahoe’s and Wig Wag’s posts on the Washington Note.
    Maybe they’re having a shitty month and things will get better once they get a chance to lay back and kick off their shoes. As soon as their candidate declares her support for the winner of this deliberately-drawn-out cartoon spectacle, that is.
    Or maybe not.
    Doesn’t this pandering to the worst in Americans remind anyone else of their Grade 6 class’s campaign for class president?
    ‘Adolescent’ doesn’t completely describe this gas tax holiday proposal for me. But it’s a good start.

    Reply

  15. Judson Haverkamp says:

    Pity that the economists have packaged their message as a ponderous op-ed in a major newspaper rather than a snappy set of soundbites to air on talk radio or between segments of some right wing rant on Fox. I have no doubt that the folks Hillary and McCain are pitching the “gas tax holiday” to can understand and see through this cynical pitch, but someone has to figure out a way to package the thoughtful perspective so it effectively counteracts the simplistic hype these two are pitching.

    Reply

  16. Kathleen says:

    BandAids won’t cure what ails us, backbone will. Meanwhile on a more urgent front. the ACLU has an action alert today on a backroom deal afoot on FISA.
    Let Congress Know We’re Watching!
    In February, the House of Representatives heard the demands of voters like you and stood up to Bush administration demands for expanded surveillance powers and immunity for big phone companies that broke the law. But now, House leadership is on the precipice of caving in and handing over everything the President has demanded.
    Your representative must hear that there will be a major backlash if he or she caves on FISA. Let your representative know you’re watching.
    Dear ACLU Supporter,
    Late Friday night, the ACLU caught wind of a dangerous backroom deal brewing. The “deal” would rush a House vote that would push through a dangerous sellout on government spying powers, possibly in the next few days.
    We need you to immediately contact your member of Congress. Let your representative know you’re watching and expect him or her to stand firm. That means no immunity for lawbreaking phone and internet companies, and no spying on Americans without a warrant.
    Let your member of Congress know you’re watching!
    Back in February, the House stood up to President Bush’s fear-mongering tactics by letting the so-called “Protect America Act” expire. This ill-named bill eviscerated the protections of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and violated the constitutional rights of Americans.
    This breakthrough victory for civil liberties came only because you and other ACLU activists refused to yield. Because of your emails and phone calls, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer rallied defenders of freedom to hold their ground.
    But now, word comes that House leadership may be working hand-in-hand with Senator Jay Rockefeller, the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who has spearheaded efforts to give immunity to law-breaking phone companies that provided mountains of customer data to the government without warrants.
    As discussions continue, it’s critical that House leadership avoid buckling to pressure from the White House or Senator Rockefeller at all costs. House leadership — and every representative — need to draw a line in the sand by rejecting any compromise that would undo the achievement we fought so hard for in February.
    Make no mistake: any “compromise” that is acceptable to Senator Rockefeller and the President will undoubtedly let lawbreakers off the hook and seriously put at risk — or even end — lawsuits that may be the only way to get to the bottom of crimes that were committed by phone companies and Bush administration officials.
    Demand that the House Stand Firm on FISA!
    Let’s make it clear. We won’t tolerate:
    Backroom deals on telecom immunity. Lawsuits may be our last chance to expose the truth about illegal spying activities by telecom companies and the Bush administration.
    Backroom deals that let election year fear-mongering steal our freedom and undermine the rule of law.
    Backroom deals that give Bush new powers to spy on Americans without a warrant.
    With your help, we have worked relentlessly to protect freedom in the long-running FISA debate. Now, we need to make sure all that work isn’t undone by backroom deals. So, please, urge your representative to stand firm.
    Let’s make sure every member of Congress knows how proud we are that the House has stood its ground and how outraged we will be if our representatives and House leadership reverse themselves now.
    Please act quickly,
    Caroline Fredrickson, Director
    ACLU Washington Legislative Office
    P.S. Once you’ve emailed your representative, don’t forget to follow up with a phone call.
    © ACLU, 125 Broad Street, 18th Floor New York, NY 10004

    Reply

  17. questions says:

    “God, guns, gays, and gas”?
    I don’t think this version is any better. If the “elites” and the “population at large” really are different, a claim I’m not convinced about, then the way to bridge the gap is not to give a 3 month holiday that saves $30-$300 dollars (or more depending on gas use). Far better would be to give instant subsidies to people willing to start intercity bus companies — jobs and transit in the short term, to give city commuters free transit cards for 3 months, to send large chunks of federal money to local and regional transit authorities for fare reductions and service improvements. Put the city “population at large” onto mass transit for cheap, put the rural “population at large” on daily commuter buses, and then look at the savings from gas, car repair, insurance….
    18 cents a gallon is really not a lifesaver, it’s a pander. Communicating to the “population at large” via pander is the height of elitism.
    We, all of us in the country, share a collective need to get out of our cars and on to trains and buses where we see each other, greet each other, develop common interests with each other, liberalize each other, listen to each other. Isolated people in cars do none of this; rather, they build up resentments at the enemy other who impedes traffic, is a “stupid driver with a cell phone” or whatever. Cars engender hostility.
    To help those who MUST travel by vehicle because of work requirements (truckers, repair people, trades people) or health requirements (disabled or chronically ill people) a tax holiday is just silly. What happens in three months? How do you guarantee that there is an actual reduction in prices? Why would you encourage people to think that gas prices will come down and thus discourage alternative behaviors like buying smaller cars, easing up on the gas pedal, reducing speeds overall, avoiding unnecessary trips? We could likely develop reasonable subsidies for work trucks that take the sting out of necessary travel without creating incentives that are counterproductive. And let’s face it, at some point, we really do have to stop driving everywhere.

    Reply

  18. Ed Pritchett says:

    Good bye Hillary, In TV parlance you and Bill have “jumped the shark”. Strike the tent and just let the Republicans pull the race card on Obama. That way it will only continue to add to their lack of credibility with the American people. Here in Georgia our idiotic Republican Governor actually closed the schools for two days to show “something” about high gas prices! We know a gimmick when we see one since thats all the Republicans here have to offer. It’s so sad to see what little of the Clinton’s legacy being tossed away in a petulant vanity project.

    Reply

  19. RonK, Seattle says:

    That is a truly remarkable document.
    TRULY remarkable, highly political, and intellectually dishonest to an astonishing degree.
    It treats the gas tax component in isolation, avoiding any mention of the windfall profits component of Clinton’s proposal — which invalidates the first and fourth complaints against the proposal. In short, it’s a fraud.
    The second complaint — that it is not a conservation measure — is true but irrelevant (especially so under its own premise that gasoline supply is short-term inelastic). In fact, they make no attempt to show that the proposal does any harm.
    The third complaint is that it would do a little, but not much, for consumers. This is true on the confined page of microeconomic analysis, where the apparent bottom line is that the Clinton proposal first does no harm … but many of these luminaries have been around the block enough to know there’s more to it than that.
    First, the Clinton proposal cuts the McCain proposal off at the knees. That’s no small virtue, either economically or politically.
    Second, the Clinton proposal expresses understanding and concern from the “elites” to the population at large. That’s important, even if it has no economic effect. [Observe also that professional economists are often methodologically blind to public policy’s most important economic impacts, both prospectively and retrospectively.]
    Third, the Clinton proposal encourages the “bitter” downscale masses to regard government as a potential ally in their economic interests — rather than voting on “god, guns and gays”.
    As I said, a truly remarkable and truly political document. Great names. Remarkable names. How many signed out of political malice, how many out of ignorance as to the proposal in question, and how many out of professional refusal to look beyond the edge of the blackboard?

    Reply

  20. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “(There are references out there to, I think it’s GM’s or Ford’s, having bought out trolley lines in California in order to create demand for automobiles.)”
    It was GM, and it was a nation wide campaign. They bought urban rail lines throughout the United States, and dismantled them.

    Reply

  21. questions says:

    WigWag,
    This answer won’t even rise to the level of Econ 101 which I shied away from for lack of a math background….
    Because demand for gas is largely inelastic and because there is no widely available substitute and becuase there is no real competition in the market, gas suppliers have absolutely no reason to compete on price. If all the gas there is sells out quickly at 3.50 a gallon, at 3.80 a gallon, and even at 3.84 a gallon (I just paid that the other day), there is absolutely not reason for gas prices to drop by 18 cents a gallon just because the feds reduce the gas tax. The tax is not paid at the pump, it’s paid earlier in the supply line, so the gas flows for a while before it reaches consumers. NO ONE along the way has an incentive to lower prices, so prices simply won’t go down. The Kos diarist also notes that although prices rise quickly in response to supply concerns, they go back down VERY slowly in response to any decrease in costs. Without real competition, without alterations in the supply/demand balance, prices simply won’t go down. BUT, if the oil companies are taxed more, they will simply pass the tax on in the price and all those working class drivers will pay for the holiday in other ways — increased prices, decreased services, collapsing roads/bridges, fewer construction jobs (and all of the multiplier jobs created by construction).
    So, in the end, I’d argue that “worth a try” isn’t the best way to design public policy. Gas prices are a long term issue that should have been dealt with 30-50 years ago, or longer. (There are references out there to, I think it’s GM’s or Ford’s, having bought out trolley lines in California in order to create demand for automobiles.)
    Let’s not lose sight of the importance of the long term, structural, systemic issues that have to be dealt with. Housing choice, job choice, zoning, road building, sewer and water service giveaways…. Every individual has a profound incentive to move further out, to give in to a corrupt land deal, demand subsidized services, take a cut of the wealth and then repeat the process for the next town. And we end up with sprawl and traffic. (And let’s remember that transit is only a percentage of our energy use.)
    The likely best answer is to mitigate short term pain through direct payments and then plan and plan and plan our way to a sustainable long term solution.

    Reply

  22. Sudhir Afridi says:

    Rehmat Shah Afridi “A Prisoner Of Conscience”
    By Sudhir Ahmad Afridi
    It is sad fully a very long period to detain a journalist and owner of an English daily for ten years. The present champion of the supremacy of the constitution and democracy in the country, Mian Nawaz Sharif, who is currently struggling to reinstate the deposed judges, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan with heavy mandate, could not provide Rehmat Shah Afridi with justice to set him free from the clutches of the ANF who had entrapped him in a fake, bogus and politically motivated case, that he was carrying 20 kg hashish in a very much expensive Mercedes car. Nobdy is ready to trust the ANF with regard to the bogus hashish case against Rehmat Shah Afridi, the Editor In Chief of the Daily Frontier Post.ANF punished him basically on the special directives of the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the then interior minister Shujat Hussein for the bold editorial policy of the “Frontier Post”
    Rehmat Shah Afridi has a well-known family back ground in the tribal area of Bara Khyber Agency. He is known and famous for friendship, hospitality and love for the welfare of humanity. He has not established his newspaper “The Frontier Post” to make money like other owners in our country, but rather he wished to serve the Pukhtoon particularly and the countrymen generally through his paper. He is a kind hearted tribal journalist, that is why he always advised his staffers to give tongue to the miseries and sorrows of the down trodden and poor people while he was not behind the bars in Lahore Kot Lakpath jail. Even now he gets pleased when an innocent and oppressed family or individual gets relief through his paper” The Frontier Post”. Mostly I have seen and felt that innocent persons languishing in the jails for a long period get lost their temper and are determined to take upon revenge from all those who have done them any harm, but Rehmat Shah Afridi is an exception. He is not having that mentality. Whenever he has talked to me from jail in Lahore, he has expressed neither any thing against any person in the ruling class nor against his own fraternity who have shown a permanent negligence to utter a few words in favour of Afridi in their respective papers. He always seems committed to serve Pakistan and Islam.I don’t understand that why the rulers including Nawaz Sharif could not ponder over giving amnesty to Afridi to make him get rid of the bogus case. Mian Nawaz Sharif did not hesitate to forgive all those who had conspired against him and to topple his elected government. Mian also sought apology from all those who had suffered any loss or humiliation in his regime while he was in Attock jail. Mian Nawaz Sharif and Zardari also forgave each other who had done much harm to one another while they were in power. But he still is obdurate to even visit and meet the old and ailing editor In Chief of the Frontier Post. It is his moral obligation to ask the government and the concerned authorities to set free Rehmat Shah afridi honorably who spent ten years in jail in Lahore.
    General Pervez Musharaf under the notorious “NRO” forgave all the known criminal politicians and bureaucrats who had looted the national exchequer and had ransacked the pockets of the poor masses. Now all those guilty persons are enjoying in the corridors of power. Pervez Musharaf himself is lobbying for his personal amnesty, so that in the near future the incumbent coalition regime could not impeach him for his entire extra judicial killings and unconstitutional steps, which he had taken to strengthen his own illegitimate rule in the country. He even brought down an Indian spy Sar Ba Geet Singh from the execution platform and released him with great honour and dignity to prove that he was a kind hearted and sympathetic ruler. But the nation remembers that Pervez Musharraf while using his illegal dual powers has killed thousand of poor and innocent tribesmen and the countrymen just to appease the American President Bush. Why President Musharraf is not willing to give amnesty to afridi who is fairer and more patriot than he himself? Is the so called and fake crime of Afridi much bigger than all those whom he has forgiven in the recent past under the garb of “NRO?”
    The editors and the owners of the different newspapers have played no role to force the government to release Afridi, their colleague. I salute Mr. Najam Sethi, the Editor In Chief of the “Daily Times” who raised a strong voice for the early release of Afridi.The tribesmen appreciate the bold stand of Mr. Najam Sethi, who awoke the working tribal journalists and the civil society to wage a peaceful and democratic struggle for the early release of Afridi.The tribal Union of Journalists Khyber Agency on the proposal of this writer under the leadership of Khyal Zaman Afridi, president TUJ Khyber protested in front of Peshawar Press Club to demand the early release of Rehmat Shah Afridi.The Peshawar based journalists also attended that demonstration and raised a strong voice for Afridi.It is good for the government to honourably and without any further delay release Afridi ,so that the reconciliatory efforts for procuring durable peace in Fata could be strengthened.Certainly the tribesmen would be very happy and obliged to the government if it releases Afridi as a sign of goodwill.Mr. Zardari and the incumbent Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani are also supposed to issue instructions for the release of Afridi.
    Sudhir Ahmad Afridi

    Reply

  23. cherish says:

    Wigwag@4:28 pm,
    I didn’t embed links because I don’t know how. The clip was from the article Steve linked to in his original post, at http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0508/Economists_for_the_gas_tax.html .
    Scroll down to the comment thread for the Jabberwonk links.
    Peace

    Reply

  24. PissedOffAmerican says:

    The point that DWG makes is extremely relevant. At the current rate of gas price increases, by the time Hillary is in a position to seek the implementation of such a proposal, and it travels the route of legislative approval, we will be paying over five bucks a gallon, or more. So, gee, hows that help the “working class”, who are already suffering?
    This bit of political posturing is pure umittigated horseshit.

    Reply

  25. WigWag says:

    Questions, thank you for your comment. I won’t go to Kos because the site is sexist and mean spirited. I used to look at it regularly but like many Clinton supporters I found the level of invective there too great and the cogency of the arguments too limited to be worth all the abuse. I feel the same way about the sexist men on MSNBC; Olberman, Matthews, Schutster, Scarborough and that ilk.
    Nevertheless, I think you make a great point. It is far from a guarantee that a gas tax holiday will work. The ideas that you mentioned such as finding a way to get more money into the hands of those who need it are excellent. Many of the ideas that Dan Kervick mentioned in his post also seem excellent to me. POA is right when he says that we need to hold Obama’s Clinton’s and McCain’s feet to the fire on overriding the EPA’s disgraceful refusal to allow California to enforce it’s mileage standards. Both Senators Obama and Clinton have publically stated that they will overturn this terrible decision of the Bush administration, McCain has so far been silent on this issue. As you rightly point out, nuch more investment is needed in mass transit, but even if it happens, it will take years before the benefits become apparent. Many of us need relief now.
    I do disagree with your point that the gas tax holiday will drain funds for the highway trust fund. Senator Clinton’s idea is to increase taxes on oil company profits to make up the short fall in gas tax revenues.
    I also concede that the vast majority of economists think this is a bad idea. In my opinion, it might be worth a try and that in any case it is unlikely to be harmful. There was a time when progressive people thought taxes like sales taxes, property taxes and the gasoline tax were regressive. Progressive people supported taxes that went up with income levels. The gas tax is regressive. I think regressive taxes are bad and that progressive taxes are good. (You are right though that a reduction in the gas tax would help both people who need it and people who don’t).
    Also, my admittedly limited understanding is that gas prices are set primarily in the spot market for gasoline. Long term, gas prices are affected by the supply and demand for oil, the supply and demand for refined product like gasoline, refinery capacity, etc. None of these parameters would be effected by a gas tax holiday of 15 or so weeks. Thus it is entirely plausable that a reduction in gas taxes would be passed on in whole or in part to the consumer. If it doesn’t get passed on, consumers are no worse off than they were before. The only thing that’s changed is that oil companies have paid a little more into the highway trust fund and the consumer has paid a little less into the fund. Why is that so bad?
    I don’t claim to be an expert, but I don’t see the harm in trying.

    Reply

  26. PissedOffCitizen says:

    Wig wag, etal, isn’t defending a proposal, he’s defending a candidate. And in so doing, he must invent a defense for the proposal. I find this practice despicable, and more so when the defense he invents deceptively presents Hillary as some sort of champion for the working class. Her performance these last eight years pretty well nixes that bit of horseshit. But the same can be said of Obama. In fact, if Hillary was opposing a tax holiday, Obama would probably be proposing one.
    Meanwhile, Rove says FUCK YOU to Congress, in chorus with Rice, Johnson, Yoo, and a number of other Bush co-conspirators. Our Pentagon is revealed as having had presented the American people with a bogus and bribed Fourth Estate, and these maniacal monsters that created the cesspool of human suffering in Iraq are now setting their sites on Iran and Syria.
    Yet not a peep out of any of these three candidates. No cry for accountability. No attempts to enlighten and inform the American people about the CRIMES of this Administration, past, present, and ongoing.
    Instead, we get fluff, horseshit about pastors, dodging imaginary bullets on far off tarmacs, and the longest inter-party pissing match in the history of Presidential election cycles.
    And now this, some half baked political stunt shamelessly presented as concern for the plight of the working class.
    We are, apparently, a nation of idiots.

    Reply

  27. dwg says:

    Is there something I’m missing here? Just how exactly is a junior senator from New York, one that has no position or rank on any committee’s that would influence either tax or energy policy plan to draft, introduce and sheperd a “tax holiday” through both houses of congresses AND get the oil drenched prez-nit to sign on — all be for the START of the summer driving season?
    Jesus she’s not even in Washington anymore?
    She’s not even got the nomination, much less a position to grant tax holidays yet.
    Why is anyone even entertaining this as a serious proposal?
    Of COURSE it’s pandering at its very worst. Not only is it not a serious policy proposal, it’s only hypothetical at BEST!

    Reply

  28. questions says:

    WigWag,
    Kos has a diary by an economist that explains better than I could why the tax holiday fails. It likely won’t reduce prices, it likely will drain the government of money for highway/job programs, and so it does more harm than good. The better thing to do is to take the “savings” that a tax holiday would generate and send them directly to those who need additional money. This way, we don’t subsidize people who don’t need the extra savings, we don’t force non-drivers to subsidize drivers through reduced government resources, and we do help working class commuters. Remember, a gas tax holiday benefits people who can afford their gas, a benefit they don’t actually need. Better to target cash aid instead.
    Pandering doesn’t help. Pandering merely seems to help. It’s a good idea not to ask to be pandered to.
    Long term, we need TRANSIT, a huge change in zoning laws to allow more people to live closer together and closer to work, smaller cars, and a really profound rethinking about how we live. We start on this stuff and we might be able to cope better after the next shock. (I still remember the odd/even gas lines and I can’t for the life of me believe how many stupid energy policies we’ve put in place over the last 35 or so years. Tax breaks for Hummers??? Land grabs in the distant burbs?? WHAT were we thinking?)

    Reply

  29. PissedOffAmerican says:

    This debate cracks me up. These ignorant jackasses, on both sides, in their blind charge to support these candidates, are now championing their candidates as heroes of the working class.
    Tell me, what have any of these three candidates done in the last eight years to launch substantive opposition to the Bush Machine, to advocate for the rule of law and accountability, and to curtail the obscene amounts of money that has been shoveled into Bush’s war and his gargantuan albatross, the DHS?
    Championing these bastards as being mindful of the American working class is laughable. Have none of you heard of NAFTA? Have none of you watched our industry and our jobs get shipped off to China and India? What has Hillary done to curtail this? Obama? What have either of these people done to stop the flow of cheap and exploitable labor over our southern border?
    Heroes of the working class, my ass.
    The poster above is right. You are a bunch of rubes.

    Reply

  30. Joe Klein's conscience says:

    Tahoe Editor:
    And Obama has since admitted it was a dumb idea. When has Hillary or the Boy King done that? Also, by ripping Economists she is ripping one of her loyal supporters(Krugman, who I wonder how he feels about her comments now).

    Reply

  31. citzen says:

    1. HRC is the ultimate republican weapon
    —she has been mathematically eliminated, yet in the 3 months since her defeat she has managed, in ways only a clinton would, to divide the entire anti-bush vote. She is the ultimate divider….class and racial divide have not been this rigid since carville was working for wallace…
    2. Clinton supporters—please use wikpedia and spend five minutes reviewing the “southern strategy” before blowing your emotional gaskets….done reading? painful to be supporting the 21st century wallace isnt it?
    3. she talks like bush/votes like bush and campaigns like bush—how isnt she a rove republican?
    —” you are with us or against us”–HRC and little bush—are you focking kidding me? hello people…for your own sake please grasp reality…..
    4. Her gas tax is similar to the war in iraq…we are attacked by folks in afghanistan yet we invade iraq, gas prices skyrocket so clinton positions big oil for more profit…are you kidding yourselfs to think big oil is going to miss the opportunity to put the money in their pocket, more important we will never capture bin laden in iraq, nor will any sill gas gimmick become law, it was a dead legistlative issue 2 minutes after it’s utterance…is this the leadership we need? only in a cartoon world…

    Reply

  32. TonyForesta says:

    While you may accept that “…green technologies may be the answer in the long run but from what I’ve read they’re years away”, I do not WigWag. Other nations are already working in these directtions, and applying resources, research, and information toward the development of these technologies.
    The same pack a pathological liars and “message-forece multipliers” pimping the fictions, myths and patent lies to justify the bloody, costly, neverendingwar and occupation in Iraq, – are also bent on deceiving the American public into believing we as a nation somehow lack the capacility, or intelligence, or technological inventiveness to develop workable green solutions that would radically diminsh our dependence on oil. This is a naked lie pimped and mass marketed by the oil and energy oligarchs and the fascist klans, cabal, and cronies that profit WANTONLY control of oil and energy resources and markets. The single and only cause for the lack of investment into, and a redirection of resources and energy toward green technology development is – volition – the peoples will.
    The oil and energy oligarchs and the fiends who profit wantonly from Ameica’s and the wests’ pathological addiction to oil LIE to us on a daily basis. We can make the necessary changes if we so decide, – but the oil and energy oligarchs and the fiends who profit wantonly from our addiction to oil will resist and ruthlessly combat that change. It is us or them. We cannot have it both ways. We either go forward and make the changes necessary to survive in the 21st century, or we remain mired in the old world, and dependent on the wanton profiteers and select oligarchs and cabals who are bent on political and economic domination, and forcing the people to be forever dependent on oil. It is lie. Believe it if you will, and resign your childrens future to certain doom. – or demand change now.
    The first and most critical step is placing IMPEACHMENT firmly on the table.
    “Deliver us from evil!”

    Reply

  33. DonS says:

    my last xomment should have been addreswswed to wigawg as well. Pardon.

    Reply

  34. DonS says:

    Tahoe,
    I thought you rather too intelligent to be pandered to, but again I am proven wrong,
    As far as addressing the concerns of “working Americans”, tax proposals are only window2 dressing as you seem to imply.
    Re Obama, far from insulting middle class values, rather he seems to hew to sensible economics and not simply dive for the lowest common demoninator that the pundits de jour thrive on — at least uhtil the next shift in the wind.

    Reply

  35. PissedOffAmerican says:

    What has this posturing fraud Hillary done to support California’s propsed fuel standards?
    What has she done to inform the American public about EPA head Johnson’s criminal disregard for a supreme court order, and his disregard for the recommendations of his own staff when he nixed California’s efforts and legislation?
    Someone above offered the term “rubes” as being the very apropos description of how this posturing fraud Hillary, and the other two candidates view us. And, judging by the slavering adoration some here exhibit for these shameful politicos, the term is extremely accurate.

    Reply

  36. WigWag says:

    PacificCoastRon, you’re wife sounds like a smart, capable woman. She may favor $10 a gallon gasoline but I suspect she’s in the minority on that one.
    PissedoffAmerican, no wonder you’re so angry at everyone who disagrees with you. You’re paying $600 a month for gas. If that was me, I would be a little crazy too. But not so crazy that I would criticize those few politicians who want to give me a bit of a break.
    Tahoe Editor, people who oppose Clinton and McCain on the gas tax holiday are not just being “a little sloppy.” They’ve taken a page right out of the right wing play book that they love to criticize. They refuse to mention the parts of the plan that don’t fit neatly into the narrative they want to present. They don’t mention the fact that Mrs. Clinton would offset lost revenue to the highway trust fund by increasing taxes on oil company profits because they don’t want you to know how progressive the plan truly is. It’s ironic isn’t it? They pretend to hate FOX News and then go out and use precisely the same tactics as are so prevalent on that station like innuendo and half truths.
    TonyForesta, green technologies may be the answer in the long run but from what I’ve read they’re years away. Many of us have watched our standard of living fall dramatically in the past 8 years. We need a break now.
    DonS, It may be pandering but I’m happy to be pandered to. It’s about time politicians showed some interest in the concerns of working Americans. Maybe you’re right, perhaps Senators Clinton and McCain are just pretending to be interested. But what has Senator Obama done other than dismiss the concerns that many of us have and insult the values that many of us live by?
    And by the way, for those who think a reduction in gas taxes would result in a meaningless savings for the average worker, think again. The gas tax calculator mentioned in the post by Cherish (above) shows that if you drive 350 miles a week (millions of people drive that much or more)you will save just about $50. That’s enough to pay for 3 copayments for the average medicare patient taking lipitor. It’s enough to pay the typical medicare part D premium for a month. It pays for 20 pounds of chop meat or for one new tire for the car. Maybe that’s not alot of money to you, but it is alot of money to millions of people.

    Reply

  37. Tahoe Editor says:

    The economics and the politics of a tax holiday don’t change with price or jurisdiction. BO is again the wind surfer here.

    Reply

  38. Spunkmeyer says:

    Tahoe,
    Yes, Obama did vote for it, and concluded that it didn’t work.
    Here’s the transcript of an exchange about it this morning on
    Meet the Press:
    ****
    MR. RUSSERT: Why are you against giving taxpayers in Indiana,
    North Carolina, a relief from federal gasoline tax this summer?
    SEN. OBAMA: You’re right, Tim, this defines, I think, the
    difference between myself and Senator Clinton. This gas tax,
    which was first proposed by John McCain and then quickly
    adopted by Senator Clinton, is a classic Washington gimmick. It,
    it is a political response to a serious problem that we have
    neglected for decades. Now, here’s, here’s the upshot. You’re
    looking at suspending a gas tax for three months. The average
    driver would save 30 cents per day for a grand total of $28.
    That’s assuming that the oil companies don’t step in and raise
    prices by the same amount that the tax has been reduced. And,
    by the way, I have some experience on this because in Illinois we
    tried this when I was in the state legislature, and that’s exactly
    what happened. The oil companies, the retailers were the ones
    who ended up benefiting.
    MR. RUSSERT: You voted for it, too.
    SEN. OBAMA: I did. Exactly. And that…
    MR. RUSSERT: When gas was only $2 a gallon.
    SEN. OBAMA: And, and that’s my point. I voted for it, and then
    six months later we took a look, and consumers had not
    benefited at all, but we had lost revenue.
    MR. RUSSERT: So you learned from a wrong vote.
    SEN. OBAMA: Yeah, I learned from a mistake. And, in addition,
    what happens is, is that this would come out of the Federal
    Highway Fund that we use to rebuild our roads and our bridges.
    And if we don’t have that fund, then we’re looking at thousands
    of jobs being lost in Indiana and in North Carolina.
    Now, Senator Clinton says that she’s going to use the windfall
    profits tax to fill it. First of all, she’s already said that she’s
    going to use the windfall profits tax for something else, as I
    have, and, and that is to invest in clean energy and, and other
    important measures. So that money, she’s already spending
    twice. More importantly, nobody thinks that George Bush is
    actually going to spend–or is actually going to sign a law for
    windfall profits taxes, so that’s not going to happen this
    summer.
    So what this is, is a strategy to get through the next election.
    And Senator Clinton’s own staff told The Washington Post, “We
    don’t think this is really going to go anywhere. We don’t think
    it’s going to work, but we think it’s a good issue to use in a
    campaign.” And that’s what Washington does. We, we, we don’t
    deal with the serious issues that are in front of us, we try to
    figure out what’s going to poll well and what can we do to get
    through the next election.
    And what I’ve said is, look, people do need serious relief. They
    are, are getting hammered. I mean, people who–can’t go on
    job searches because they can’t fill up their gas tank. And so
    what I’ve said is, let’s accelerate a–the second half of a tax
    stimulus proposal that I had put forward that would put,
    immediately, hundreds of dollars into people’s pockets to get
    through the summer; let’s pass a permanent middle-class tax
    cut, $1,000 per family, to offset the payroll tax to deal not just
    with rising costs of gas, but also rising costs of food, rising
    costs of prescription drugs; and, most importantly, let’s invest in
    alternative fuels, raising fuel efficiency standards on cars, and
    let’s get serious about reducing consumption of oil, which is the
    only way that, over the long term, we’re going to reduce, we’re
    going to reduce gas prices.
    And, you know, I have to say that if Senator Clinton or John
    McCain had stood up in previous years for increases in fuel
    efficiency standards, in getting serious about a–an energy
    policy that is freeing ourselves from dependence on foreign oil,
    then we would not be in this same situation in the first place.
    And I don’t want, 20 years from now, to have a bunch of
    politicians proposing a suspension of the gas tax holiday when
    gas is $8 or $10 a gallon because we failed to act now. Now is
    the time for us to act, and I think the people of Indiana and
    North Carolina understand that.
    MR. RUSSERT: It’s a pander?
    SEN. OBAMA: Yes.

    Reply

  39. DonS says:

    Alan, get in line behind the other panderer aplogists. You’ve added notheing new to the discussion except some polemics which, BTW,I agree with.

    Reply

  40. Alan Bennett says:

    Can someone explain this to me: when banks need a bail out the system works. When the mortgage system breaks down bail out is okay. Checks can be given to tax payers to spend and stimulate. But when a single mother needs a break on gas prices for 6 months the system can’t cope. It is all about supply and demand (not a foreign concept in the stock market). Why can’t a Mom receive a 18% rebate on each sale no matter the price if the system is programmed to do so?
    Somehow this smells.

    Reply

  41. DonS says:

    Tahoe,
    Can you tell us what the price of a gallon was at the time, I take your word for it, Obama so voted? And whether the holiday applied to only state excise taxes, i.e., no jurisdiction o0ver federal taxes.
    So a gimmick may be more or less of a gimmick depending on the conditions, no?

    Reply

  42. Tahoe Editor says:

    BO voted for THREE — count them, THREE (3) — gas-tax holidays in the Illinois Senate, but NOW it’s a gimmick.
    Tsongas tried to pin “pander bear” on Bill and he failed miserably.
    Tsongas-Dukakis-Kerry-McGovern-Kennedy-MoveOn = losing proposition
    http://www.mgwashington.com/index.php/news/article/cue-the-pander-bear/930/

    Reply

  43. DonS says:

    intouch,
    Can you count? What, $.17-.19 on the price of a gallon of gas. Think about what you are saying. By the way, many (most?) “poor folks” don’t have cars or use them as their basic transporation.
    Pandering.

    Reply

  44. Dan Kervick says:

    On the one hand, it is true that any tendency on the part of more affluent liberals to look only at the tendency of high gas prices to create incentives to conserve and spur long-term energy policy benefits, while ignoring the real immediate-term pain felt by working Americans who depend heavily on their cars, would be both politically dumb and morally obtuse. Most Americans are in the mood to regard very high energy costs as a problem to be solved, not a negative economic disincentive to be embraced as a spur to radical long-term lifestyle change.
    If a Democrat runs on the message that it is actually a good thing that it now costs a fortune to fill up one’s car with gas, that message is going to hurt that candidate big time in the fall.
    However, the gas tax “holiday” is a cheesy, ineffectual, Republican-style gimmick which will provide few, if any, real benefits to Americans, no matter what their economic status. One might as well respond to the problem of the rising cost of food with a Free Cookies and Ice Cream Day. If the gas tax is given a holiday, then even if the proposed windfall profits tax is passed – which seems unlikely – won’t oil companies just raise prices temporarily, before and after the holiday so it isn’t noticed as much, to collect the additional revenues they need to pay off their one-time windfall profits tax? And isn’t it likely that the holiday itself will produce a sudden and temporary jolt in demand which will line oil companies pockets even more? Americans will be talked by demagoguing politicians into believing they just got a free lunch, when in fact they will pay for the lunch in other ways, on other days.
    This isn’t just about revenues for the highway fund. It’s about the difference between sound energy policy and deceptive populist grandstanding. McCain and Clinton have really gone a pander too far on this one. It’s embarrassingly transparent.
    Rather than go in for gimmicky tax holidays, or for a high-handed “high gas prices are good for the soul” policy of sticks only to push conservations and efficiency, Democrats should lead with economic carrots, in the form of rebates, low-interest loans, tax-credits etc., for the development and purchase of more fuel-efficient vehicles. Don’t tell people, “Just keep suffering until the pain forces you to change.” Instead tell them, “Change now. Here’s an economic incentive to make it very much worth your while.”
    But by all means don’t insult them with, “Look here! Free money!”

    Reply

  45. intouch says:

    Once again, Steve, like Obama, is way out of touch with ordinary Americans. The gas tax suspension will help put extra money back in their pockets instead of the wasteful government.

    Reply

  46. DonS says:

    Its not a serious idea; simply politicking at its worst.
    Can you spell “Pander”. Anything to garner a vote or two with no perceived downside — uh — except depriving the highway trust fund of its needed infusion.
    Treat the little folks like rubes. Its an election year, right? So who’s counting?

    Reply

  47. Spunkmeyer says:

    Next up: Hillary Clinton advises you burn your furniture as an
    innovative and new way to heat your home.

    Reply

  48. TonyForesta says:

    If these kinds of pandering proposals and bandaids on bulletholes solutions to the crushing costs of gas at $4.00 a gallon are at best only temporary, and at worst, aid and abet the oil companies primarily, and will provide little relief to middle class and poor American, – imagine what will be our hopes when gas is $6.00 a gallon. Pain is coming. The superrich and the predator class will be largely immune from the brutal economic hardships the rest of America must hazard and endure, (with imponderable wealth and far removed from, and obdurate to the suffering masses safe secure behind their oppulent palace walls), – but the terrible crushing costs across the economic landscape for 99% of America will reshape or societies, our nation, and what little tattered shreds remain of American democracy.
    Green technologies are the future. Robopathically holding to the ruthless domination of old world oligarchs and cabals bent on feeding and perpetuating the addiction to oil is certain doom. The writing is on the wall, working Americans are going to live and do with less. Crushing costs and debt will deprive working Americans from access to what was once imagined as the American dream. Our leaders need to invest in green technologies, and provide green mass transportation solutions to allow working people to operate in a world where gas is $10.00 a gallon, because that pricing and higher is the inevitable and certain future.

    Reply

  49. Tahoe Editor says:

    Of course this is a political gambit, but omitting Hillary’s plan to pay for it and keep the highway trust-fund coffers full is a little sloppy.

    Reply

  50. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Upper middle class people and wealthy people can afford high gas prices, poor and working class people cannot. The question is simple, which side are you on?”
    Don’t iclude me in your finger pointing and generalizations, as I might just resort to calling you a pompous little jackass.
    But I’ll refrain for the moment.
    But I AM the “working class” you deceptively imply Hillary is aiding. I am currently spending over six hundred bucks a month getting me and my tools to my jobsites.
    As far as your ridiculous assertion that a transient “tax holiday” is going to make any substantive difference to my pocket book, or my standard of living, is sheer idiocy.
    Truthfully, I have no respect for someone, or the opinions of someone, that panders as shamelessly as you do.
    When you show me any substantive efforts Hillary has made to oppose the disastrous policies over eight years of this executive Administration, or to call for vaccountability, then maybe I’ll buy into your stump driven drivel. But until then you will be hard pressed to justify your fawning adoration for this complicit and abetting criminal Hillary.

    Reply

  51. PacificCoastRon says:

    My darling wife would be a charter member, if there were many others, of a group I would call “Wiccans for Stalinist Justice;” her instinctive belief is that rapists should be summarily castrated by the victim’s family and that those who steal from the public treasury should have all their property confiscated.
    She is one of the few who loudly advocates $10/gallon gas to encourage massive social change towards conservation.
    Far from being an elitist, after blowing out her wrists with 30 years of 60-hr week arts & crafts manufacture, we were able to put the high-school dropout through 6 years of schooling (all while working too) to an RN degree, and now she spends 12-hr days helping patients on a surgical recovery floor, ie installing catheters in men & women, lots of picking up 350-pound plus patients after they try to go to the bathroom on their own after their hip or knee replacement, dealing with fussy relatives and over-worked doctors, putting all info into a picky computer system that sends every electron back and forth to a central processor a 1000 miles away, etc. etc. You really want her job? You think $800 a week take home for all that, plus a 25-minute commute each way in the 14 yr old Subaru makes her an elitist?
    You come and tell her, I got enough grief.

    Reply

  52. WigWag says:

    POA, Many so called progressives have suggested that high gas prices will eventually lead to conservation, which everyone agrees would be a good thing. So called progressives love to criticize George Bush and rightly so. The problem is that many of their policies are as bad for working people as his are. Refusal to consider a gas tax holdiay is the perfect example of this. Three prominent progressive people who have criticized the gas tax holiday, even though it might put some extra money into the pockets of working people, are Laurie David, Thomas Friedman and William J. Gale (Brookings Institution). The first two are multi millionaires and I doubt that Mr. Gale has ever gotten his hands dirty in his life.
    Upper middle class people and wealthy people can afford high gas prices, poor and working class people cannot. The question is simple, which side are you on?

    Reply

  53. PissedOffAmerican says:

    What a fuckin’joke. Whats to stop the gas companies from simply doing another price hike on the heels of any tax suspension?
    And MarkL’s representation of Hillary as some sort of dove is ridiculous to the extreme. And Wiwag’s slavering support for this shameless political gimmick is completely unwarranted. Then he says…
    “The problem is that too many so called progressives really don’t give a damn about poor people or people who work with their hands. They’re actually happy to see gas prices go up because they think it will lead to conservation”
    Which is the kind of despicable generalizations one expects from these bastards feeding the Bush propaganda machine.
    Yeah, thats it, Wigwag, the progressives “are actually happy to see gas prices go up because they think it will lead to conservation”.
    What a crock of horseshit. It astounds me the lengths some people will go to, to pander for these posturing frauds. The panderers are as despicable as the frauds themselves are.

    Reply

  54. Robert Morrow says:

    Hillary loves to fight constantly. It is her way of taking out her “Bill hate” on the rest of the world, especially men and Republicans. In her mind, attacking Iran would be a great outlet and cover excuse for taking out her “Bill hate” in a cathartic spate of violence and destruction.
    Hillary’s mind is that of a psychological cripple; anyone who would let wild Bill humiliate her on a daily if not hourly basis for 36 years is not “strong” or “smart.” If Hillary is so “smart” why doesn’t she make herself happy. If I were the so-called smartest woman in the world, whip smart, the first thing I would do is make myself happy. Hillary is not happy. She is very unhappy and not smart and not strong. That combined with Hillary’s low to non-existent ethics is like pouring gasoline on a truck-sized load of fertilizer. Hillary is a walking, talking time bomb waiting to go off in a spasm of militaristic violence. All she needs, or rather wants and craves, is a reason to let the bombs start dropping.
    Basically, Hillary is a fat-assed, bitter old woman (with nothing else to do, crummy marriage and all) whose power trip is finally hitting the circuit breaker in the Demo primary. Hillary does remind me of her horse Eight Belles: both keep running even after the race was over until they collapsed (or will collapse) with 2 broken ankles at the end. The only difference is Eight Belles was euthanized, but we will still have Hillary to kick around in the Senate.

    Reply

  55. WigWag says:

    Cherish, the links in your post don’t work. I would be grateful if you could provide them so we can all take a look.
    Thank you.

    Reply

  56. cherish says:

    Ah, found it, in the comment thread of the link Steve posted:
    The website JABBERWONK created an online “Gas Tax Holiday Calculator” that lets you estimate your own potential savings, while at the same time pointing out the potential costs:
    John McCain and Hillary Clinton have suggested suspending Federal Taxes on all Gasoline/Diesel sold between Memorial Day (5/26) and Labor Day (9/1) this year.
    According to state highway officials and this article in the New York Times, this “Gas Tax Holiday” will lower tax revenue by roughly $9 billion and potentially cost 300,000 highway construction jobs. The highway trust fund that the gas tax finances provides money to states and local governments to pay for road and bridge construction, repair and maintenance. LINK
    According to the Jabberwonk calculator, someone who drives 100 miles a week would save an estimated $13.80 in tax relief over the 15 week “holiday.” You can calculate your own savings here… LINK
    Read Barack’s plan to address energy policy HERE and tax relief HERE in America.
    Posted By: Marw | May 02, 2008 at 05:57 PM

    Reply

  57. cherish says:

    Where can we go to see the math breakdown of the Clinton-McCain proposals? Clinton says the plan will save citizens bookoos at the pump; Obama calls it a “gimmick” and says it will result in a savings of .30 per day per driver and about $28.00 a month — while being paid for by cutting infrastructure repair projects, which translates as JOB LOSS.
    Like my math teacher, I want to See Their Work.

    Reply

  58. WigWag says:

    Here we go again, all the elitists and intellectuals criticizing yet another idea that just might help working class people. The arrogance and indifference of this crowd is truly staggering. As they hop in taxicabs to get to their cushy think tank or university jobs or as they jump into their BMWs to head on down to their wood panelled offices at their accounting or law firms, they couldn’t care less that millions of working class and poor people depend on their automobiles and they are hurting. Many are hurting badly.
    Economists don’t like the idea of a gas tax holdiay. Who cares? Is economics such a precise science that the pronouncements of economists should be treated as gospel? I think economists are alot like meteorologists; right about 50 percent of the time. If reducing the tax makes it easier to pay for gasolene during the summer, great. If it doesn’t, well it’s only a temporary tax break and it will expire soon enough.
    If Clinton’s plan is enacted (instead of McCain’s)there won’t be an increase in the federal deficit and their won’t be additional increases in oil company profits. She supports legislation that would increase taxes on oil company profits to make up for the reduced revenues that would result from the gas tax decrease. And all the additonal taxes paid by oil companies would be earmarked for the highway trust fund, just like gas taxes are. So let’s see, gas taxes go down for working class Americans and excess profit taxes go up for oil companies. That sounds pretty progressive to me. I also hope Clinton will join those who oppose additions to the federal strategic petroleum reserve. That would also help.
    The problem is that too many so called progressives really don’t give a damn about poor people or people who work with their hands. They’re actually happy to see gas prices go up because they think it will lead to conservation. Of course it will, eventually, but in the meantime millions of people will suffer and watch their standard of living drop even more. The simple reality is that those of us on a fixed income or who work for hourly wages can’t afford to wait for plug in hybrids and we can’t afford to give up the cars we have now to go out and buy a new Prius. We need help and we need it now. Clinton (and McCain) have at least made a proposal that might help. What we have from everyone else, is advice that we “suck it up.” I say, screw that.
    Steve Clemons mentions that Senator Bingamon decided to support Senator Obama at least in part because he disagrees with Senator Clinton about the gas tax holdiay. I have read elsewhere that other super delegates have reacted the same way. I don’t have a clue about how the politics of this all works out. But if Democrats think the answer is to tell people, don’t worry, technological change will get this all worked out in 5 years or so, they’re living in a dream world. Steve, you worked for Senator Bingamin; he chairs the Senate Energy Committee; what’s his plan for immediate relief from sky high gas prices? If he has one, I haven’t heard it.

    Reply

  59. MarkL says:

    Steve,
    Hillary is the only candidate who has taken preemptive war with Iran off the table. McCain hasn’t, and Obama has threatened to bomb Iran to stop its nuclear program.
    Tell me again who is the hawk.

    Reply

  60. questions says:

    There’s a whole other side to look into on this issue — why does 18 CENTS per gallon seem like a lot of money to anyone–truckers who use a lot of diesel are not going to save much money even if there were a way to ensure that the savings get passed on. The level of economic pain that would look to this as a boon is really sobering.
    And even more fundamentally, why do we still insist that we are better off keeping 100% of our own money instead of contributing some to a pool to help each other? Most families pool resources (husband and wife, parents and children), friends help each other out, condo boards collect monthly assessments, community centers take fees…. There simply are things we do better together. Can we not get this message out? Do we need the Dems arguing that people should keep more of their own?
    (Last time I posted, the Captcha worked on one try!!!!!)

    Reply

  61. bleh says:

    > If a gas tax holiday is all the damage that a President Hillary
    > Clinton would do, I would count the country as lucky, extremely
    lucky.
    Oh, but she’s just getting started! Give her time, she doesn’t even
    have the nomination yet.

    Reply

  62. JohnH says:

    The gas tax holiday is truly small potatoes in comparison to the massive damage done to the economy by laws signed by Bill Clinton in his last two years:
    1) The Financial Services Modernization Act (FSMA) enabled the sub-prime crises and brought the financial system to the brink of meltdown by putting an end to depression era protections against financial abuses by big banks and Wall Street. A gift to Wall Street, it was signed in November, 1999, just as Hillary was ramping up her campaign to represent New York (and Wall Street) in the Senate (coincidence? yeah, right!).
    2)The Commodities Futures Trading Act, signed in December 2000, contained the “Enron loophole,” which exempted energy commodities trading from the kinds of government regulations that apply to financial and securities trading and even to other commodities trading. The impact of the “Enron loophole” was felt almost immediately as California began to suffer through electricity crises as artificial supply shortages led to frequent rolling blackouts. Prices skyrocketed, fattening Enron’s bottom line.
    Lasting effects are being felt today, as experts attribute spiralling oil and gasoline prices in part to use of the “Enron loophole,” which allows energy traders to manipulate oil prices, possibly bidding them up 20-50%.
    3) PNTR for China, also enacted in December 2000 without labor or environmental protection was instrumental in creating the great sucking sound of American manufacturing and American jobs going to China over the following few years. It also set the stage for massive US current account deficts and for putting the US Treasury in hock to China for $478 billion by 2007.
    Of course, Bush gladly embraced these laws and did nothing to stem the damage enabled by Bill Clinton.
    If a gas tax holiday is all the damage that a President Hillary Clinton would do, I would count the country as lucky, extremely lucky.

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  63. Linda says:

    Pandering is bad old politics as usual.

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  64. Dan Kervick says:

    Two New Just-announced Clinton Proposals:
    The Tarheel Tobacco Stimulus Act: A $1.7 billion dollar national program to encourage teenage smoking and bring full employment and higher profits to North Carolina’s beleaguered tobacco industry.
    The Hoosier Daddy Backyard Basketball Heritage act: An $850 million dollar package of subsidies, giveaways and guaranteed loans for the purchase of asphalt, graders, paint, backboards, hoops, nets and balls, and Indiana University season tickets, so that every Indiana family can enjoy an NCAA-regulation outdoor basketball court in their yard and help rebuild Indians’ storied basketball legacy.

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