Senator Hillary Clinton has apparently decided to join John McCain in calling for a "gas tax" holiday for the summer. Their plan would suspend the 18.4 cent per gallon tax on gas (and the 24.4 cent tax on diesel fuel) from Memorial Day to Labor Day, giving consumers a temporary break from the high cost of fuel. If, that is, the companies that sell the fuel don't decide to raise their prices and erase the relief.
In a Presidential campaign season that's been marked by more than its fair share of stupid ideas, this one's still a standout. Nothing says "responsible leadership" (or, for that matter, "intelligent campaigning") in times like this than proposing a measure that would:
- Potentially result in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs that are created by the federal highway projects that the gas tax pays for.
- Result in a massive spike in gas prices at the end of the summer, two months before election day.
- Create benefits for the average consumer only if the gas companies don't decide to raise their prices to collect some or all of the federal subsidy.
- Encourage consumers to buy more foreign oil this summer.
- Increase demand (and possibly well-head prices) during the summer.
- Provide a disproportionate share of the benefits to consumers who purchase massive, gas-guzzling SUVs.
Thank you, Senator Clinton, for once again reassuring me that backing Obama isn't as bad an idea as the alternative.