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Indiana Holiday / Dumb Clinton Gas Plan

The New York Times

Op-Ed Columnist

Indiana Holiday


Published: May 3, 2008

Our question for today is: What does the debate over that cheesy plan for a gas tax holiday mean to the American voting public?

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Gail Collins

Times Topics: Gail Collins

This all started with John McCain, who proposed suspending the 18.4-cent-per-gallon federal gas tax from Memorial Day to Labor Day in order to give regular hard-working Americans “a little relief.” In terms of rational policy-making, this is a little bit like announcing that you want to reduce tensions in the Middle East by drilling an enormous hole in Sweden.

Economists instantly pointed out that dropping the tax would cost the government around $9 billion, possibly add to the already obscene profits of the oil companies and do little or nothing to actually lower the price of fuel. Not to mention that it points us in the exact wrong direction on global warming and energy independence.

But, hey, nothing’s perfect.

McCain has taken to responding to criticism like this by saying that his proposal is not “the end of western civilization as we know it.” This is a little weird coming from the guy who spent the early primary season depicting Hillary Clinton’s attempt to get a million dollars for a Woodstock museum as a nuclear strike against the nation’s economic security.

The real point of the tax holiday proposal is, of course, to show sympathy for the little guy. It’s been a tough few months for McCain and the smallish folk, what with all those tax-cut plans for the wealthy. And then there was the health care speech when he told people to take responsibility for buying their own insurance policies and “watch your diet, walk 30 or so minutes a day and take a few other simple precautions” so they won’t get sick. We will think of this forevermore as his Let Them Not Eat Cake moment. Link to NYT story


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