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FEATURE

The Gas Tax 'Holiday' Shell Game





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Senators Hillary Clinton and John McCain have challenged Senator Barack Obama over his refusal to support their proposal that would suspend the .18 Federal gas tax for three months this summer.

The problem?

A near-unanimous chorus of protests from experts, economists and environmentalists, all of whom support Senator Obama's position that the 'holiday' would net less than thirty cents a day for consumers -- if indeed any net at all -- since, historically, oil companies have absorbed the savings without passing them on, while gutting the transportation infrastructure trust fund that is the source of income for thousands of American workers and the safety net for our highways and bridges that are currently crumbling.

Environmentalists have also added that it would likely lead to more gasoline usage as at time when we need to reduce our carbon footprint due to the impact of climate change.

The lone 'expert' in support of Senators Clinton and McCain in this scenario so far?

Spokesman for the Clinton campaign and SHELL OIL LOBBYIST, Steve Elmendorf.

To which, Senator Obama responded:
“In a moment of candor, her advisers actually admitted that it wouldn’t have much of an effect on gas prices. But, they said, it’s a great political issue for Senator Clinton. So this is not about getting you through the summer, it’s about getting elected,” Obama argued. “This is what passes for leadership in Washington, phony ideas, calculated to win elections instead of actually solving problems.”

The environmental organization, Friends of the Earth, has endorsed Senator Obama, citing the gas tax issue as false and lauding the Illinois Senator for standing up to political pressure to tell the truth about it. Newspapers across the country have also weighed in with their criticism, including this quote by one of Senator Clinton's own supporters:

“I was appalled by Hillary going with the gas tax,” said Alice M. Rivlin, a budget director under former President Bill Clinton who supports Mrs. Clinton for the nomination. It “looked like pandering,” Mrs. Rivlin said.

An open letter signed recently by more than 100 economists said the proposed tax holiday would do little to reduce gas prices. In part, that is because a fall in prices would lead to more demand, which would cause prices to return to their earlier level. The result would be that overseas oil-producing governments would get money now flowing to the United States government in gas taxes.

What is also being lost in this pandering: the fact that this idea was first floated by John McCain and then picked up by Senator Clinton...

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