McCain stoops to pander on gas prices

Now this is twice this week John McCain has ticked me off with one of his fund-raising e-mails:

My Friends,

This week, I laid out an economic plan aimed at providing immediate and long-term relief for all American families. One of the key components of this plan is a suspension of the federal gas tax on gasoline from Memorial Day to Labor Day of this year.

The effect of this "gas tax holiday" will be an immediate economic stimulus – taking a few dollars off the price of a tank of gas every time you fill up. And because the cost of gas affects the price of food, packaging and just about everything else, this immediate step will spread economic relief to every family in America.

My friends, this election will be shaped by the big issues we face as a nation, not the small ones. To effectively communicate our solutions to these issues, I will need a united base of support and financial resources to communicate my message to the American people. That’s why I ask you to join my campaign by making a financial contribution by following this link right away.

Sure, any politician can pander over gasoline prices, and many do. What gets me is when a candidate who should know better does it.

So it was that I was highly offended when Al "Earth in the Balance" Gore asked Bill Clinton to open the tap on the Strategic Petroleum Reserve right before the 2000 election. Al knew better.

So should Sen. McCain, who’s been working for years with his buddy Joe Lieberman to do something about global warming.

For elaboration on my point, I refer you to the Energy Party platform. The main problem with $4-a-gallon gas — aside from the overall inflationary pressure it exerts — is that too much of it goes to petrodictators. If more of it were in the form of tax, as smart folks from Tom Friedman to Charles Krauthammer to Jim Hoagland to Robert Samuelson have been saying for years, it might actually do the country some good. It would drive down demand, thereby driving down the price that the exporters can demand, undermine the bad guys from Iran to Sudan, and we could use the dough for research on hydrogen and other alternatives…

26 thoughts on “McCain stoops to pander on gas prices

  1. bud

    Yeah!! Brad got one right. Of course McCain is pandering. But that just scratches the surface of why this bill is dead wrong for America. Real problems include:
    1. It will enable our continued reliance on dwindling oil supplies.
    2. The bill drains money away from needed highway projects.
    3. Ironically this will actually fuel inflation as consumers will not move away from wasteful driving habits as fast they would otherwise. Demand has to come down somehow to meet supply, hence gasoline prices will rise to offset the tax cut, thus delaying any incentive to cut back thus putting upside pressure on prices.

  2. Lee Muller

    It would be better to reduce some general tax, like eliminating the tax on dividends, estates or capital gains.

  3. Hary

    Frankly, Brad, the hyper-inflated gasoline and crude prices line the pockets of all holders of oil resources, not just bad guys. The money grab going on from Oil companies to spot-market traders who have enough capital to manipulate markets and blame it all on demand will continue as long as Cheney and company remain in power. The main problem with $4 gas is not only inflationary pressure, but also depression of demand for anything beyond gasoline and food. The other ill you overlook is the financial strain on lower-income working families for getting to work, heating and cooling their homes, and buying groceries. Obama was right – “pain trickles up.” When the middle class and upper-income folks start getting a little wet from droplets, they begin to notice the problem that is drowning their less-fortunate, but invisible bretheren. Your champion, McCain acts like a 4% price cut in gas will be a great help us happily vacation this summer. Ask any business in Myrtle Beach how their business has been since gas crossed the $2 threshhold. Talk to a watress who maybe covers her gas bill on three nights a week. He even seems to think a doubled personal exemption will be a boon to a family of four each making $8 per hour. Flash, Guys, they don’t make enough to pay income taxes anyway. Out of touch. Elitist, maybe?

  4. wtf

    What McCain doesn’t want anyone to realize is that his hawish ways will only guarantee higher oil prices. Even a blind man can see that the turbulent fighting and war in the Persian Gulf will cause oil prices to rise.
    What McSame doesn’t want is for anyone to ask the question
    “If gas is $4 a gallon today with a war in Iraq, what will the price of gas be after he lauches his attack on Iran?”
    Think and shiver over that one.

  5. Richard L. Wolfe

    Golly, I am so confused, If higher cigarette taxs will cause less people to smoke then wouldn’t higher gas taxes cause people to drive less? Is that gnawing sound I hear the State chewing it’s own tongue or is it the sound of a liberal government eating it’s own children?

  6. Wally Altman

    I’m pleased (but not surprised) to see you aren’t cutting McCain any slack on this one, Brad. I have to wonder, though; is any of this going to matter to you in November? Or are you going to make your decision based on exactly one issue, as you did in 2004?

  7. Doug Ross

    We’ve reached the “lesser of two evils” stage of the election process.
    There will be ample opportunities for McCain to disappoint Brad over the summer.

  8. Lee Muller

    Because only the top 51% of 1040 filers pay any income taxes at all, you have to formulate any tax cuts to those in the higher income brackets – otherwise there is no effect on the economy.
    The top 20% will pay somewhere close to 70% of all the taxes this year, so any tax relief has to be aimed at “the rich”.
    All income grouips need their FICA taxes lowered and diverted into private retirement accounts that they OWN.

  9. Bob

    Here’s a news flash, if we had not listened to the chicken little’s of the world, we would have built enough refineries, drilled enough oil wells and built enough nuclear power plants not to have found ourselves in this position in the first friggin place!!!!!

  10. Jeff Mobley

    Sure, McCain’s proposal is pandering, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad policy. The fact is that for most working people, gasoline isn’t a luxury that they can do without when the price gets high. It’s a necessity that ranks somewhere up there with food. For that very reason (inelasticity of demand), gas taxes are among the most regressive in existence, impacting those at the bottom the most. If the fact that McCain’s idea would benefit so many people makes it pandering, well, that’s fine with me.
    It is annoying that people are being told that by the very act of getting up and driving to work they are doing a terrific evil to the environment. Do we need to become independent of oil? Sure, maybe after we use up the billions of barrels worth they just found in the Dakotas. Do we need to invest more in technology so that alternative energy sources become more economically viable? Yes! (that hopefully means something other than diverting a bunch of corn to make an expensive-to-produce fuel that drives food prices up even further because of the decreased volume of edible corn).
    But punitive taxes that hit the working poor the hardest are not a good way to turn things around. They’re just a good way to stifle the economy.

  11. Lee Muller

    Stop it, Jeff!
    You, Doug and Bob are making too much sense, and showing too much compassion for the working stiffs who can’t afford a new hybrid status car to run down and chat about how concerned they are, over a $4.00 cup of coffee.

  12. Wally Altman

    Jeff, getting rid of the gas tax altogether is one thing, but a tax holiday is something else entirely. It does nothing to solve any of the underlying problems; it’s just a risk-free way for McCain to pander to voters since there’s zero chance of such a bill getting past Congress.

  13. Randy E

    so any tax relief has to be aimed at “the rich” – Lee
    You mean like the ones W pushed and McCain opposed before supporting them? The ones that apparently have not propped up our economy that is now in a recession?
    Lee, if you are a “working stiff” as you claim, do you not understand that the rise in gas and food prices is not going to affect people making 200k a year? The Hummer they drive gets 10 mpg. If they drive 15 miles a day at $4/gal vs $2/gal, they spend an extra $90 per month out of the $11,500 monthly take home pay. Cutting taxes for the rich enables them to buy more expensive toys. How does that help a poor guy like you?

  14. Randy E

    Oh, Lee Muller, still waiting for the source of your “Obama said he was a socialist last week” claim.

  15. garth vader

    When someone who professes to hate thinking about money fantasizes that gas profits would be more helpful if paid as tax dollars, because demand would then be driven down and gas would actually be cheaper even though the tax had already made it more expensive, someone has made it obvious their hate for thinking about money springs from an inability to think about money in a way that makes even one shred of sense.
    Someone should be ashamed.

  16. Steve Gordy

    BTW, there’s an adoring column in The Wall Street Journal today touting our governor for Veep on the McCain ticket. It’s either informative or hilarious, depending on your outlook.

  17. Lee Muller

    Socialists back Obama
    Obama’s socialist backing goes back at least to 1996, when he received the endorsement of the Chicago branch of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) for an Illinois state senate seat. Later, the Chicago DSA newsletter reported that Obama, as a state senator, showed up to eulogize Saul Mendelson, one of the “champions” of “Chicago’s democratic left” and a long-time socialist activist. Obama’s stint as a “community organizer” in Chicago has gotten some attention, but his relationship with the DSA socialists, who groomed and backed him, has been generally ignored by the liberal media.

  18. Randy E

    Lee Muller, waiting for that link to support your claim. Why not admit you “misspoke” and admit you were wrong.
    BTW, David Duke ran as a Republican. You and he are of the same ilk, eh?

  19. Lee Muller

    The head of the National Socialist Party ran for President as a Democrat, and spoke at the 1980 National Convention. He has more relation to the current election than David Duke, who has none.
    Have you read Obama’s book, where he talks about being a Marxist? Have you read the essay on “Problems Facing Our Socialism”, by Barak Obama?
    Have you read the speech at Duke University, a few weeks ago, where Obama said he supported some socialist programs, because he like “what works” and that even though they had failed elsewhere, he “could make them work”.
    Randy, if you are in denial over Obama’s attachment to socialism and terrorism, maybe you recognize that that agenda is wrong. Step one to recovery from anti-Americanism.

  20. Lee Muller

    Iran has endorsed Obama today.
    Hamas has endorsed Obama.
    Maybe Mexico, Kim Jung Il and Castro can get in an enforsement before the convention.

  21. Terry Munson

    If McCain’s gas proposal is accepted, which seems unlikely, it will reduce the price of a 16-gallon tank of gas by 11%, or, at $3.50 a gallon, by $6.16. Unfortunately, the price of gas is expected to continue skyrocketing, so that savings soon disappears. The good news is that at $4.00 a gallon the savings is $7.04, and at $5.00 it’s $8.80. With any luck gas will go to $10.00 a tank and we can save $17.60. Alternatively, we might consider correcting the underlying problem, which is the falling dollar and increasing world demand for petroleum.

  22. Lee Muller

    Fixing the falling dollar requires spending cuts large enough to balance the budget and pay off the national debt with the current tax rates. If the economy goes to zero growth, that debt reduction would have to be maintained by further spending cuts.
    This Congress isn’t going to do it. They are the ones who wanted to run deficits $200 BILLION larger each year.
    Obama and Hillary aren’t going to do it. They are proposing larger deficits and huge spending programs on welfare, medical coverage, free college tuition, anything they think might buy votes from freeloaders.
    Their proposed tax increases on the minority who produces most of the wealth will remove most incentives to do any extra work – just bide their time until sanity is restored.

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