Senator Hillary Clinton on Friday continued to press her support for a gas tax holiday this summer, which most economists say would be a mistake and would save drivers around $25.00 to $30.00.
There is so much wrong with the idea of a gas tax holiday, it’s hard to know where to start. It will add to the deficit, psychologically encourage people to drive more and short-change road and bridge repair budgets. It’s also an administrative and planning nightmare to turn a tax off in May and turn it back on in September.
But Clinton knows a piece of election year bacon when she sees it. John McCain was the first to suggest it. Senator Obama is against it for all the economic and rational reasons. For not the first time, Senator Clinton is trying to persuade voters that she is more like John McCain than she is like Barack Obama.
The gas taxes go to supporting road and bridge projects. But in the GOP cum Sean Hannity world, any tax is a bad tax, so the more a candidate is for a tax rollback, the better the GOP likes it, even if it doesn’t make sense.
Mrs. Clinton introduced legislation in the Senate today proposing the gas tax holiday and covering the cost of it through a “windfall profits” tax on oil companies, a campaign spokesman said. Yikes.
This is legislation that has no shot of being passed this year. None. Zero. Zip. And even if by some miraculous method, the bill did get passed…guess what oil companies would do to make up for it? They’d raise the wholesale price of gas. So, it would be a wash for the consumer at best. But Clinton would be able to say she gave voters a tax holiday, and put an extra $25 bucks in their wallets on top of the Federal checks people will soon be getting.
Even though Mark Penn has been sidelined as the Clinton chief strategist, one mole in the Clinton campaign tells me that the polling they have seen shows that a gas tax holiday tests off the charts with the working class white voters Clinton sees as her key in what’s left of her chances to take the nomination away from Obama.
The next important state for Clinton to put in her win column is Indiana, a state full of working class white voters who have seen their state decimated by job loss. I hate to say this, but its true. The Clinton campaign polls for what scores with less educated voters. So, the strategy is to pursue whatever tests bests among people with the least education.
Say it slowly, and it sounds worse than how I just put it. The more education a person has, the more likely he or she is to support Obama. The less schooling one has, the more likely they connect with Clinton. There is a theme here. And this gas tax holiday fiasco is a microcosm of the situation in the Democratic party. Give them $25.00, and hope they don;t realize that they will be re-taxed by the oil companiees if her bill went through, and by state and Federal government later to make up for lost highway funds when her bill doesn’t go through.
This was also the reason Clinton went on the O’Reilly Factor this week. O’Reilly, like Hannity and Limbaugh have bigger audiences than, say, Don Imus. But Imus has always gotten much more money per 30-second ad, because his listeners are more educated and affluent and spend more money.
In Clinton’s words: “I believe it is important to get every member of Congress on the record. Do they stand with hard pressed Americans who are trying to pay their gas bills at the gas station or do they once again stand with the big oil companies? That’s a vote I’m going to try to get, because I want to know where they stand and I want them to tell us - are they with us or against us?”
In case you missed it—this is taken from the Bush playbook where he has told Congress that to vote against the Iraq occupation appropriations is to vote against the troops.
Clinton’s only hope of getting the nomination rests with super-delegates, a big chunk of which are in Congress. This approach may get her popular votes in Indiana, but playing the Bush card with Congress is likely to get her a pie in the face from her own party members.
It is the Hannitization and O’Reillyization of Hillary Clinton. This is her strategy of appealing to Indianians and North Carolinians who vote next week, two markets where right-wing radio, by the way, is big.