Clinton Gas Tax Plan Doesn’t Need Economists, Just Good Implementation?

  • Published on May 5th, 2008

gaspumps.jpg[social_buttons]I usually don’t watch the Sunday morning talk shows like Meet the Press or This Week. I’m not sure why. I think this is because I have a deeply ingrained aversion to them dating back to my childhood. You see, we really only had a handful of channels in those pre-cable days, and on Sunday mornings, before the cartoons really got going, three of those channels were running these incredibly boring talk shows – when they should have been running, at least from my point of view, cartoons. It was completely beyond me why they were running these shows at all, and not just doubling up on Superfriends or Scooby Doo! It seems I knew, even at that young age, that there were some things are just better off left till Monday.

What I’m getting at, is that I did not see Hillary Clinton on This Week with George Stephanopolous, on Sunday morning. But since we have a 24-hour media matrix covering every breath and every word in this presidential campaign, I was told all about it by all of my regular news outlets as soon as I got up. I was most struck by Senator Clinton’s reply to Stephanopolous’ question about the pushback her proposed summertime gas-tax holiday has received.


“Economists say that’s not going to happen. They say this is going to go straight into the profits of the oil companies. They’re not going to actually lower their prices. And the two top leaders in the House are against it. Nearly every editorial board and economist in the country has come out against it. Even a supporter of yours, Paul Krugman of The New York Times, calls it pointless and disappointing.

Can you name one economist, a credible economist who supports the suspension?”

[Clinton tried to elude the question with a foray into populist appeals of how elite opinion is bringing down the hard-working middle class, but Stephanopolous reiterated the question].


“But can you name an economist who thinks this makes sense?”


“Well, I’ll tell you what, I’m not going to put my lot in with economists, because I know if we get it right, if we actually did it right, if we had a president who used all the tools of the presidency, we would design it in such a way that it would be implemented effectively.”

Now, I am usually the last person to be defending economists, but when it comes to designing energy tax policy, perhaps an economist is not a bad person to talk to, no? Former Labor Secretary in the Clinton administration, Robert Reich thinks so. Reich wrote in his blog on Sunday:

“I’m not suggesting economists have all the answers. But when economists tell a president or a presidential candidate that his or her idea is dumb – and when all respectable economists around America agree that it’s a dumb idea – it’s probably wise for the president or presidential candidate to listen. When the president or candidate doesn’t, and proudly defends the policy by saying she’s “not going to put my lot in with economists,” we’ve got a problem, folks.

“Even though the summer gas tax holiday is pure hokum, it polls well, which is why HRC and John McCain are pushing it. That Barack Obama is not in favor of it despite its positive polling numbers speaks volumes about the kind of president he’ll be – and the kind of president we’d otherwise get from McCain and HRC.”

This gas tax holiday is just a bad idea all the way around. First of all, Sen. Clinton proposes that her tax be paid for by the oil companies. Do you actually think something like that would get through the Senate? Let me say this, if Congress wouldn’t repeal tax breaks to big oil to fund renewable energy tax credits, they are not going to pay for a summertime tax moratorium on gas with an increased tax on the oil companies.

Abolishing the federal excise tax on gasoline in the summer leading up to the presidential election is exactly the kind of pure pandering that is not going to get Hillary Clinton or John McCain elected.

Photo: robertstown2001

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About the Author

is the founder of ecopolitology and the executive editor at LiveOAK Media, a media network about the politics of energy and the environment, green business, cleantech, and green living. When not reading, writing, thinking or talking about environmental politics with anyone who will listen, Tim spends his time skiing in Colorado's high country, hiking with his dog, and getting dirty in his vegetable garden.

1 comment

  • Tax relief, is a bit of an over statement. It takes 12 gallons to fill up my car. An 18 cent tax relief saves me 2.15 a week and over a 3 month tax 'holiday' I will have saved $25.92 cents in taxes, it currently cost me $43.00 a week for gasoline. That is not what I call a big tax break. I don't know who I will vote for yet, but their name will not end in Bush or Clinton.

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