Another Bad Idea From John McCain

16 April 2008

John McCain recently proposed a holiday on the federal gas tax. Wired explores the wisdom (or lack thereof) of this idea:

The national average for a gallon of gas is $3.38, and it could hit $3.50 or even $4 before long. Cutting the cost by 18 cents amounts to a 5 percent reduction. The Arizona Republic - McCain's hometown paper - says the average Phoenix commuter will save $23 under McCain's proposal. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials says the average American will save $28.

On the other hand, the Republic found, suspending the gas tax for three months would free up $88.36 million in consumer spending throughout the greater Phoenix area. And companies like FedEx that are losing their shirts to high fuel prices could use some relief.

But McCain's proposal could cost the government some $9 billion dollars - and more than 300,000 jobs.

The tax supports the federal Highway Trust Fund, which finances road projects nationwide and is already facing a $3.4 billion shortfall, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials says. The American Society of Civil Engineers says every dollar invested in highway infrastructure generates $5.40 in economic benefits through reduced delays, improved safety and lower vehicle operating costs. And the federal transportation department says every $1 billion in highway spending creates 34,779 jobs.

A McCain spokesman told MSNBC the senator favors transferring money from the general fund to make up for the lost gas tax revenue. That, of course, would add to the deficit.

More deficit spending and more loans from China and Japan. We're $9 trillion in debt already, and McCain's top economic adviser is calling for a plan that "makes the deficit expand," and is saying things like this: “I would like the next president not to talk about deficit reduction.” You can't just borrow money forever.

It's also worth noting that repeal of the gas tax has been proposed and has failed at least six times times since 2000. Dole proposed the same thing, but ended up dropping the idea a few months later.

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