Friday, May 2, 2008

The Clinton-McCain Election Energizer Policy

Hillary Clinton is soo down to earth. All that mudslinging must be doing her some good. Running up and down those steps in Phila, ducking the sniper fire in Waziristan (there too?), changing tires on her rig (why not? It would look great on camera!) There is nothing the Middle Age Lady cannot do (except getting a cup of coffee from that pesky electric coffee brewer!)

She sure as hell is full of energy, and if you can’t afford to fill up your car or truck now that rising gas prices have eaten up the President’s simulation package before IRS even had a chance to get the cheks out, there is allways Hillary Clinton. Just holler, and she’ll be right there next to you, promising instant gas relief.

Compare that to the elitist Barack Obama. He’s not at all like her and John McCain. Because they are different (well, the rich are different, they have more money, to paraphrase Earnest Hemingway). Hillary and John trust each other, well, at least she trusts that you can call him too at 3 AM in the morning. But Barack Obama, no he doesn’t feel your pain. He scoffs at even the thought of giving the little guy a break at the pump. But Hillary’s new trucker friends doesn’t think so. And John McCain himself said the other day that a gas-tax holiday would come in handy for partents at the end of the summer. They could take the money and use them to buy school supplies, or they could have dinner out for a change. McCain also feels people's pain.

And Barack Obama is actually totally wrong about the impact of a tax cut on gasoline. It’s totally wrong to say that the average consumer is going to save 30 dollars over the period of the proposed tax cut. Totally wrong, but wrong in the right way, because the average consumer won’t even save a tenth of that if we are to believe Leonard Burman, one of many experts who have commented on the Clinton-McCain idea. Leonard Burman was a treasury official in the Clinton and the Reagan administrations, and now heads up the Tax Policy Center, and is a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Urban Institute in Washington. Here is what he told Glen Ifill at Jim Lehrer’s Newshour on Tuesday:

"GWEN IFILL: It's hard for voters trying to decide what to do this year, to decide who's right on things like this. We just heard Hillary Clinton say this can be a lot of money for people who are long-distance truckers or who drive great distances to work. We heard Barack Obama say, 'This is 30 bucks of savings.' Who's right?

LEONARD BURMAN: Well, they're actually both wrong. I mean, $30 bucks assumes that the price would fall for an average consumer and the price isn't going to fall very much. It's maybe a couple of bucks for an average American family driving their car in the summer." (To read a transcript of the entire interview, click here!)

The whole idea is ridiculous, wrote Thomas L. Friedman in his NYT-column aptly named ”Dumb as We Wanna Be”. He credited Barack Obama for ”resisting this shameful pandering”:

”Unfortunately, the unifying idea is so ridiculous, so unworthy of the people aspiring to lead our nation, it takes your breath away. Hillary Clinton has decided to line up with John McCain in pushing to suspend the federal excise tax on gasoline, 18.4 cents a gallon, for this summer’s travel season. This is not an energy policy. This is money laundering: we borrow money from China and ship it to Saudi Arabia and take a little cut for ourselves as it goes through our gas tanks. What a way to build our country.”

This silly discussion is being held instead of giving the alternative energy industry the tax cuts the should have, and developing a real energy strategy.

Friedman concluded:

”The McCain-Clinton proposal is a reminder to me that the biggest energy crisis we have in our country today is the energy to be serious — the energy to do big things in a sustained, focused and intelligent way. We are in the midst of a national political brownout.”

Hans Sandberg

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