Gasoline Tax Honesty

Bloomberg’s Catherine Dodge wins line of the day honors for her lede, “Never before have two presidential campaigns staked so much on 18.4 cents.”

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are closing out their marathon campaigning in Indiana and North Carolina tussling over Clinton’s proposal to suspend the federal tax on each gallon of gasoline for the summer months, one of the few stark policy differences between the two Democratic presidential candidates.

A bipartisan group of more than 200 economists, including four Nobel Prize winners, signed a statement calling the gasoline-tax plan — also endorsed by Republican John McCain –a “bad idea.” Obama derides it as a “gimmick.” Clinton dismisses the economists and says Obama’s opposition demonstrates he’s out of touch with working-class voters.

My colleague Alex Knapp believes people will see through Clinton’s pandering and that this will redound to Obama’s benefit. My guess, though, is that most people would rather have the 18.4 cents than honesty.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Economics and Business, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Alex Knapp says:

    Polling on the issue suggest a majority of Americans are opposed to the holiday. See, e.g.:

    http://matthewyglesias.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/05/shocking_results.php

  2. James Joyner says:

    Polling on the issue suggest a majority of Americans are opposed to the holiday.

    I wonder, though, if that isn’t a case of people telling pollster what they think they’re supposed to say?

  3. Michael says:

    Polling on the issue suggest a majority of Americans are opposed to the holiday. See, e.g.:

    While 51% is technically a majority, wouldn’t it be more honest to say that Americans are mostly divided on the issue?

  4. Michael says:

    I’d also point out that the wording of the questions seems peculiar to me (and to some of Yglesias’s commenters as well).

    Instead of asking “Do you support or oppose the planned federal gas tax holiday?” with a typical “strongly, somewhat, neither” range of options, they asked “Is the plan good for reasons X, or bad for reasons Y?” Especially since the reasons listed for it to be good won’t be created by the plan, the reasons for it being bad have nothing whatsoever to do with the plan, and they are not mutually exclusive positions for a respondent to hold.

  5. legion says:

    My colleague Alex Knapp believes people will see through Clinton’s pandering and that this will redound to Obama’s benefit.

    You do recall, don’t you, that this gas tax holiday (at least for this election cycle) was originally John McCain’s idea, that Clinton has tried to co-opt as her own, right?

  6. James Joyner says:

    You do recall, don’t you, that this gas tax holiday (at least for this election cycle) was originally John McCain’s idea

    Oh, indeed. And I’ve criticized him for it. Repeatedly, in fact.

    I *get* the need to pander on occasion but it’s pure BS.

  7. William d'Inger says:

    Well, yeah, it’s a stupid idea, but I wouldn’t turn it down. That comes to about $2.40 a fillup in my pickup. That’ll get me a moon pie and RC cola at any truck stop in Dixie.

  8. Michael says:

    Well, yeah, it’s a stupid idea, but I wouldn’t turn it down. That comes to about $2.40 a fillup in my pickup. That’ll get me a moon pie and RC cola at any truck stop in Dixie.

    You think you’ll see any of that $2.40? Gas won’t become 18.4 cents cheaper when this goes into effect, but you can best believe it will go up by at least 18.4 cents when the “holiday” is over.

  9. Bithead says:

    Look, gang, I hate to keep coming back to this, but this time is a bit different. I keep saying that Exxon’s profits last year were 40BUSD, but their taxes were 100BUSD.

    That 20 or so cents is a drop in the gas tank.

    What say, though, we call a REAL gas tax holiday?

    Keep in mind those 100BUSD in taxes are exclusive of the at the pump 18.4 cents the government tacks on directly at the pump. How long would it take, do you suppose for Americans to burn 100 billion gallons of gas? A year? Suppose we had gas prices a dollar lower than they are right now. Hmmm?

    I mean, multiply this by the number of gas and oil companies there are around, and eliminate all those taxes, too. DO you suppose there would be a price difference at the pump?

    You’ll never see it, of course, because for one thing, Americans would know how much the government is creating the gas price problem with taxes, and there’d be a full scale no-holds barred revolution.

    What they’re proposing just now is a nice attention-getter, but until they have the stones to propose a real gas tax holiday, don’t expect me to take it seriously.

  10. Rick DeMent says:

    But then you would also have to eliminate the subsidies, credits and giveaways bithead and the price goes up higher then it was …

    you are such a complete tool, ill informed, and an oxygen thief to boot.

  11. Bithead says:

    Oh, by all means, eliminate them too. You’ll not get any argument from me on ThAt score, trust me.

    And, no, Rick, the price wouldn’t go higher. Riddle me this; Do you honestly consider that added taxes, when their taxes are already many times what their actual profits are, is going to lower the price at the pump?

    Then why on earth are you trying to sell us on the idea that the reverse is true?