It’s one thing for a good presidential candidate to embrace a bad idea. It’s worse when the candidate knows it’s a bad idea. It’s worse still when the candidate attacks her rival for failing to embrace a bad idea. And it’s the worst when the candidate feels so strongly about the bad idea that she starts running television commercials about it.Of course he's talking about Hillary Clinton and her support of John McCain's incredibly stupid gas tax holiday. Now we know it's stupid because Fred Barnes thinks it's a good idea. It's so stupid that even Thomas Friedman thinks it's stupid and He's rarely right about anything. Jonathan Alter calls it what it is:
Suspending the federal gas tax is a crass ploy for votes. Why Hillary Clinton and John McCain should know better.
Hillary Clinton has now joined John McCain in proposing the most irresponsible policy idea of the year—an idea that actually could aid the terrorists. What's worse, both of them know that suspending the federal gas tax this summer is a terrible pander, and yet they're pushing it anyway for crass political advantage.So why is it so stupid? Alter explains:
Clinton and McCain have learned a destructive lesson from the Bush era: as Bill Clinton said in 2002, it's better politically to be "strong and wrong" than thoughtful and right. The goal is to depict Barack Obama as an out-of-touch elitist. By any means necessary.
I could highlight a long debate among economists on suspending the gas tax, but there is no debate. Not one respectable economist—and not one environmentalist or foreign policy expert—supports the idea, unless they are official members of the Clinton or McCain campaigns (and even some of them privately oppose it). To relieve suffering at the pump, send another rebate check or provide tax credits or something else, but not this.
* It's a direct transfer of money from motorists to oil companies, which are getting ready this week to again report record obscene profits. If the federal excise tax were lifted, oil companies would simply raise prices and pocket most of the difference. Clinton's proposal to recover the money with a windfall profits tax on oil companies sounds nice but won't happen. That tax was easily blocked by the Senate in December and would likely be blocked again.What I have heard few talk about are the reasons behind the sky rocketing fuel prices. Of course we have reached peak oil which I first discussed here almost four years ago. But that doesn't explain why the US is being hurt much more than Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. The reality is that oil costs a lot more dollars because the dollar buys a lot less. A majority of Americans now realize that the occupation of Iraq is responsible for much of our economic woes. That includes the price Americans pay for gasoline. The occupation of Iraq costs about three billion dollars a week. That money is all being borrowed driving up the national debt and driving down the value of the dollar. Now an gas tax holiday won't increase the supply of oil and if anything will decrease the value of the dollar driving up prices even more.
* It offers taxpayers only peanuts. The Congressional Budget Office says the average savings to motorists this summer would be a total of $30. Did I miss something, or was that measly number somehow not included in Clinton's explanation of her support?
* It sends more hard-earned money to the Middle East, which is terrible for our national security. Remember, 15 of the 19 terrorists on 9/11 came from Saudi Arabia. How did they get the terrorist training? The madrassa indoctrination? Oil money.
* It worsens global warming by encouraging gasoline consumption. When you flee your house in 2020 because of flooding, remember which politicians pandered.
* It makes it more likely you'll have a car accident or will waste even more time in traffic. The proceeds from the gas tax go for highway construction and upgrades. Because the tax (24.4 cents a gallon on diesel fuel) was last raised 15 years ago, our infrastructure is a mess, with potholes and dangerous crossings practically everywhere. Thousands of repair projects will be further delayed.
* It will cost 300,000 construction jobs, according to the Department of Transportation. Makes it kind of ironic when Clinton starts her rallies saying she wants "jobs, jobs, jobs."
* It will cost the U.S. Treasury at least $8.5 billion and probably much more, according to state highway officials. For McCain that's no money at all—merely one month in Iraq. For Clinton it's money she's already spent. She has said in the past that any proceeds from a windfall profits tax would go for renewable energy. The $8.5 billion figure assumes the tax would be reapplied after Labor Day. Fat chance. The one-year costs are probably closer to $30 billion.
* It won't happen anyway because Congress isn't usually quite that stupid, and if it is, President Bush would veto the bill.
Now John McCain has admitted he doesn't know anything about economics so perhaps he doesn't realize how stupid the gas tax holiday is. I can't believe that Hillary Clinton doesn't know any better making her support even worse.