Lesson Not Learned On The Gas Tax

Bill Scher

Last month, Sens. John McCain and Hillary Clinton effectively tried to tag-team Sen. Barack Obama on the gas tax, with the two advocating a summer suspension of the gas tax, and Obama countering that it’s a gimmick that wouldn’t provide real short-term relief nor solve long-term our dependence on oil.

As I noted then, Obama won the argument. Following last month’s debate, most Americans — particularly independents — say the “gas tax holiday” is bad idea. And vastly more Americans trust Obama to tackle gas prices than McCain.

There even is anecdotal evidence that Obama’s position on the gas tax even helps him win over Republicans put off by his former pastor,

The lesson? To repeat myself from earlier today: People are sick of quick fixes that don’t fix anything.

McCain appears not to have embraced that lesson.

CNN reports that starting today, McCain will “resurrect his call for a national gas tax holiday.” But with a little bit of a twist:

Before a fundraiser in Richmond, Virginia on Monday, McCain mentioned the gas tax holiday in remarks to a smaller event for about 40 high-dollar donors. “That was derided by Sen. Obama and others as a gimmick,” McCain said, but added that working people and truckers would appreciate it.

“I don’t pretend that it’s an answer to our energy problems,” he said.

To say that it’s not “an answer” is literally a weak argument.

McCain may feel he needs to downplay the impact to deflect the charges of pandering that threaten his “straight talk” image.

But it only raises the question: if it’s not the answer, why mention it all?

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