Posted by: David Kiley on April 16, 2008
It probably looked good on paper when adviser Charlie Black came up with it. John McCain offered voters an additional “stimulus package” beyond what the Congress approved by suggesting that the Federal gas tax be suspended from Memorial Day to Labor Day to give American drivers extra money.
McCain called for a hiatus for the 18.4 cent-a-gallon federal gas tax. He also said the government should stop filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which holds upwards of 700 million barrels of oil.
With the average gas tank holding 13 gallons, removing the gas tax would save drivers about $2.35 every time they filled their tank. For most drivers that’s once or twice a week. An extra $4.70 a week.
John McCain has been caught saying that economics is not his best thing. This idea shows why. The federal government collects about $38 billion a year in gas and diesel taxes, with state and local governments bringing in about $78 billion more. Most of the money is used to fund highway projects. Suspending the gas tax during the summer would leave a funding gap of about $10 billion. Where is thata money coming from?
Moreoever, as we enter the peak summer driving season, the Dept. of Energy predicts this will be the first year since 1991 that gasoline consumption declines. There is already a gas glut forming, with the highest stocks of gas we have seen in fifteen years.
Wanna know why? Because gas is more expensive, and people are driving less. Honest policy wonks, journalists, energy analysts and environmental advocates have been saying for years that the only way to curb our enormous thirst for oil is to make gasooline so expensive that people start trading in their guzzling SUVs and pickups for smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles. That is happening, now that gas is crowding $4.00 a gallon in many states. $100 to fill a Chevy Suburban is a big wake-up call if you drive it 300 miles a week or more.
Europe’s car park is vastly different from the U.S.’s because they taxed the heck out of petrol. People then naturally demanded smaller, more fuel efficient cars. Few big SUVs are sold.
Now that the public is shifting to smaller, lighter vehicles, which is what even John McCain agrees is a societal goal, he wants to cut the price of gas?
I would call this a piece of political season read meat thrown out to voters, not a sound policy idea.