Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

McCain, Clinton: Gas taxes aren’t the issue, stop pandering with worthless gimmicks

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Originally published on on Tue, 04/29/2008 – 8:57am

Lake Shore Drive, Chicago

I am considering renting a car to drive around Indiana over the weekend. My quest: see the madness of the Obama-Clinton matchup up close and in person. But my friends who have cars give me these sinister warnings: the price of gas is really, really high.

As if I don’t know that.

Yes, gas is expensive in relative terms in the United States. And unlike Sen. John McCain and Sen. Hillary Clinton, I know why gas is expensive, and I don’t even own a car.

It’s not the gas taxes that are the problem.

McCain proves as he wakes up each day that his knowledge of the economy can fit in a thimble with plenty of room to spare. His solution to show how “hip” he is about the economy, even though he owns 8 houses and has easy access to a private jet: let’s cut the gas tax from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Now I expect McCain to give us a worthless symbolic gesture that distracts us from the true problem. I almost insist on it. But watching Clinton join in AND criticize Obama for not making it a consensus? Really?

Clinton, unlike McCain, will at least pay for the tax revenue by taxing windfall profits from oil companies. A worthless symbolic gesture to fix a worthless symbolic gesture seems appropriate. To his credit, Obama noted that McCain’s proposal would save motorists only about $25 or $30.

Here in Chicago, we have a beautiful road called Lake Shore Drive. It’s such a beautiful road that it inspired a hit song by Aliotta Haynes and Jeremiah in 1971. The drive has been featured in such classic movies as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Blues Brothers, Risky Business, and When Harry Met Sally.

And right now, there are significant patches that are in lousy shape. Really lousy shape. Like you might wonder if you can still have children kind of lousy shape.

Gas taxes aren’t collected for kicks — they pay to fix roads. And even though we hate road construction, there are employed people who are working out there to fix those roads. If we don’t collect the gas tax, we can’t fix roads or bridges (such as Minneapolis).

George W. Bush fed into this Republican mentality that taxes “are your money” and “you should decide what to spend it on.” No, taxes are money from the people to the government to do the things to make a society run.

I admire the audacity of the MSM and its vision of the economy: it sucks up to cheap gimmicks such as McCain’s and criticizes those who look at the big picture.

What we really could use from the MSM is one of those lovely pie charts that made the USA Today famous. And truly show us a breakdown of the cost of a gallon of gasoline. And unlike the actual pie charts in the USA Today, this one would show the cost of a gallon of gas from the unjustified war in Iraq and how much more an unjustified war in Iran would cost.

So when I do make that trip, I will grumble that I will pay more for gasoline than I have before. But I also know that if I were driving in Canada, I would pay more there than here. Same goes for Europe. And I will likely say really nasty things about Bush and Cheney getting us to this point.

But I won’t blame the gas tax. I know the gas tax is there to make sure the roads I am traveling on are in good shape. Because that is what government can do well. Barack Obama gets that, John McCain doesn’t, and Hillary Clinton should know better.


Written by democracysoup

April 29, 2008 at 8:57 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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