How the Candidates Deal With Gas

The Situation
Gas prices have inflated to extreme levels lately – nation at $3.61 and San Francisco average at $4.00 – and voters have a few plans laid before them by presidential candidates Clinton, McCain, and Obama.

The Facts

Clinton Obama McCain
  • Impose windfall profits tax (tax on a profits from a product that suddenly sells like crazy) on oil companies. Tax revenue would be used to cover for the suspension of tax on gas during peak summer months (highest demand for gas).
  • Close $7.5 billion worth of oil/gas loopholes. Savings would be used to help lower-income citizens pay for bills.
  • Cease additions to U.S. oil reserves and prepare oil for controlled release to drive down oil prices.
  • Control speculation (investing in something just for a profit) on oil that hikes oil prices unnecessarily.
  • Pressure OPEC to increase production.
  • Impose windfall profits tax on oil companies. Tax revenue would be used to help low-income citizens pay for bills.
  • No gas tax suspension — describes tax holiday as saving average driver half a tank of gas overall.
  • End tax breaks to oil companies.
  • Cease additions to U.S. oil reserves.
  • Make more effort than other candidates to limit political influence of oil companies
  • Suspend gas tax over peak summer months at expense of Highway Trust Fund (finances national road projects and maintenance). To cover this expense, funds would be diverted from the general fund (finances nation).
  • Cease additions to U.S. oil reserves.
  • End policies that contribute to higher transportation costs.

The Spin
Politicians’ new favorite game is to argue over who has the most [theoretically] successful plan to dig out of the gas tank filled with concrete leftover from burying the economy. Apparently, the only way to win is by sending the opponent back as many spaces as distortion allows, and the candidate left behind the least wins. After all, they’re politicians, what’s expected other than a decent game of dodgeball?

Ok, yes, Senator Obama and our economists are correct that a gas tax holiday would only be a temporary relief, and a long-term solution is the only way to go. However, some people — low-income, far commuters, truckers — don’t have time for just a long-term solution to work its way through Congress. The issue isn’t instant gratification. The issue is making rent, facing a three-hour gas-draining commute through metro areas, driving cross-state to make it home. A long term solution is the main idea here (and direly needed), but American politics and bureaucracy likes to take its time with big complicated things. So, short term relief like a gas tax suspension over a few months would at least bolster the public and the economy until a long-term solution is passed.

Of course, suspending the gas tax at the expense of the national debt and other programs at this point is just plain stupid (like Bush’s tax breaks). I’m supporting Clinton’s plan since it both covers a short-term emergency and cancels out wildcat speculation and loopholes that siphons our precious black gold back to the pockets of oil companies and slighting brokers.

Where is hydrogen power when you need it?

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