We're all against the terrible idea of temporarily suspending the federal gas tax between Memorial Day and Labor Day. I have already written about why this is bad policy, but I want to call your attention to this post by Chris Bowers, which explains how disastrous Hillary Clinton's idea is politically on several levels.
You should read Bowers' whole post, but here are some of my favorite passages:
2. Clinton is threatening other Democrats on the gas tax holiday, claiming that opposing it means you are with the oil companies.
[there's a YouTube here you can watch if you click through to Open Left]
Not only is that nonsensical, it is reminiscent of the many times that Bill Clinton favored legislation in the face of opposition from the left: NAFTA, welfare reform, the telecommunications act, the Defense of Marriage Act, etc. She isn't taking on the oil companies with this proposal, she is taking on the American left, just as her husband frequently did while he was President. Clearly, we can expect more of this if she were to become President.
3. So, why is Clinton taking on the left and helping out oil companies? To score political points. Her campaign has said this in public [....]
Given that one of the two or three main image problems the Democratic Party has faced over the past couple decades is the perception that we don't stand for anything and lack core values, publicly stating that a policy proposal is good because it is helping you in the polls is extremely damaging. Of course, it is also the sort of language that both Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton use on a regular basis, and which we should obviously expect a lot more of should Hillary Clinton become President. This will have lasting, negative effects on the image of the Democratic Party.
4. Where did this policy come from? This isn't a policy that Clinton has been campaigning on for a while--she just came up with in over the last two weeks. Given that she is willing to make some new gimmick the centerpiece of her public policy discussion on a whim in order to score political points, how can we ever believe that she won't just dump whatever current policy proposals she has if, in so doing, she believes she can score political points with some right-wing gimmick policy?
The gas tax holiday episode collects all of my worst fears about a possible second Clinton presidency in a single, dark, place that I haven't entered since the 1990's. Are we to suffer through another Democratic President who will make impromptu, right-ward shifts toward bad policy, justified in nonsensical, Orwellian language, all the while claiming such a move must be done because it will score huge political points even though it is ultimately a bad political calculation, and then threaten the entire Democratic Party to fall in line behind such a move or else? This is basically all of my worst fears about Hillary Clinton becoming President rolled up into one giant ball of tin-foil and dropped on my front porch.
That about sums it up for me.
Clinton supporters claim that her proposal is different from John McCain's, because she would impose a windfall tax on the oil companies to make up for the lost revenue from the gas tax holiday.
But if you know anything about how Congress works, you know that the part about the windfall tax would probably get stripped out by amendment (plenty of Congressional Democrats vote with Republicans when it comes to oil companies), or in the conference committee. Then we'd be stuck with the gas tax holiday that Hillary has been demagoguing on for the last couple of weeks, and oil companies would benefit.
By the way, I mentioned a few days ago that Hillary's proposal seems hypocritical in light of her opposition to a similar gas tax holiday in 2000.
But that very same year, Obama voted to temporarily suspend the gas tax in the Illinois Senate. So he has not always taken a principled stand against this dumb idea either. (hat tip to Jeralyn at Talk Left)
Speaking of Talk Left, Big Tent Democrat made a brilliant observation yesterday. Commenting on a report that the gas tax holiday idea is "DOA" (dead on arrival) because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer have spoken out against it, Big Tent Democrat noted that
it is funny how they can not declare FISA telco immunity DOA or how they could never declare Iraq funding without a date certain DOA. I have little respect for the leadership of Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer.