Clinton’s Fictional Gas Tax Plan

Sen. Hillary Clinton is pushing her own version of a summer “gas tax holiday”—except that her plan would end up doing absolutely nothing to help consumers. Sen. Obama has been attacking her plan (and McCain’s) as an effort to “pander:”

On ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., was asked repeated to name an economist who supports her plan to suspend the 18.4 cent federal gas tax. Either she could not or chose not to. “I’m not going to put my lot in with economists,” she said, presenting her tax hike plan as a way to life the burden of soaring gas prices off middle class Americans.

Rival Barack Obama has called the plan, which is also backed by Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting, Sen. John McCain , “a pander” that won’t solve the high cost of gas. Asked about the gas plan in his interview with Tim Russert on NBC’s “Meet the Press”, Sen. Obama, D-Ill., framed the proposal as a “classic Washington gimmick.” “You’re looking at suspending a gas tax for three months. The average driver would save 30 cents per day for a grand total of $28,” claimed Obama.

Although Clinton did not offer her own estimate as to how much relief the holiday would provide, she did try to distinguish her plan from McCain’s. “Senator McCain has said take off the gas tax, don’t pay for it, throw us further into deficit and debt. That is not what I’ve proposed. What I’ve proposed is that the oil companies pay the gas tax instead of consumers and drivers this summer.”

So, what Sen. Clinton proposes is that the oil companies pay the gas tax instead of consumers—and somehow those costs won’t end up getting passed right back to the consumers in the form of higher oil costs. No wonder Sen. Clinton doesn’t want to listen to the advice of people who actually understand economics.

Sen. Obama’s criticisms over the tax aren’t too far off—it is questionable how much a gas tax holiday would actually help consumers, and from a policy standpoint it’s also questionable whether we really want the government encouraging people to use more gasoline than they might this summer.

The Clinton gas tax plan takes the flaws of the McCain plan and magnifies them. At least the McCain plan would actually lower gas prices, while the Clinton plan would just pass the costs right back to consumers. The Clinton plan is definitely a pander—it panders to consumers by pretending to lower gas prices and it panders to anti-corporate sentiment by pretending that the oil companies will take the costs.

Clinton keeps demonstrating that when it comes to economic matters, she’s absolutely clueless—and the fact that she doesn’t want to listen to economists when she formulates economic policy should serve as a reminder why she and the other Democrats not qualified to be deciding this nation’s economic policies.

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