Apparently, there’s a relevant presidential election this time around in my erstwhile home state, woohoo! (Not that it matters to me, when I was living in the States as an alien on parole, I did not have a vote, and I don’t even live there no more, but I follow US politics religiously!). I do have a dog in the fight (okay, references to dog fighting are no longer cool), being an Obama supporter (he’s skinny, brown and intelligent, and his name, he could be me!). He has tried hard, and only occasionally failed in his attempts to not pander, to not go against his broad principles or intelligence (do not get me started on his famous coal fetish). Clinton, on the other hand, is losing her mind, and here’s the end result.
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton lined up with Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, in endorsing a plan to suspend the federal excise tax on gasoline, 18.4 cents a gallon, for the summer travel season. But Senator Barack Obama, Mrs. Clinton’s Democratic rival, spoke out firmly against the proposal, saying it would save consumers little and do nothing to curtail oil consumption and imports
So, 18.4 cents a gallon, ai, let’s see, ah, friendly chart of gas prices in North Carolina this MONTH (courtesy Gas Prices) shows the price jumping about 36 cents a gallon, or double this so called tax break. By the time the holiday weekend rolls around, prices would have gone up a little more. What exactly does this accomplish? It fails the first test of not providing meaningful relief to anyone concerned. Most people don’t know that the tax directly funds transportation infrastructure.
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. Mr. McCain and Mrs. Clinton propose to suspend the tax from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the peak driving season, which would lower tax receipts by roughly $9 billion and potentially cost 300,000 highway construction jobs, according to state highway officials.
So, take money from the federal government and give it to whom? Here’s a word from Dean Baker, my favorite economist.
Actually, almost all economists would agree that the tax cut proposed by Senators Clinton and McCain would save consumers nothing. With the supply of gas largely fixed by the capacity of the oil industry (they claim to be running their refineries at full capacity), the price will
not change in response to the elimination of the tax. The only difference will be that money that used to go to the government in tax revenues will instead go to the oil industry as higher profits.
So, Hilary Clinton supports the transfer of money from the government to the the oil companies? I don’t think so and she ought to know better, she’s a smart and intelligent woman. So, what gives? Why the pander?
Of course, she claims that she will make up the funding shortfall by increasing taxes on the oil companies. Who is she kidding here? You think our emperor (yes, he’s still there) will allow any new tax increases on his buddies in the oil industry? He’ll happily veto any such bill that comes his way!
Note that I did not have to make a single environmental argument about how high gas prices will, in the medium to long run, eventually result in increased fuel efficiency, investments n public transit and hopefully, a shift away from the American (can’t say “our” any more!) car driven model of planning.
Oh well, at this point in time, everyone’s mind’s made up anyway. Cheers and enjoy your rare meaningful vote.