Straight Talk On Gas Prices Works

Bill Scher

Congress will likely pass legislation to temporarily stop filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is because 1) it’s harmless legislation and 2) congresspeople can then say they “did something” on gas prices.

But by Election Day it will be painfully clear they didn’t do very much.

But what other option do congresspeople have, especially when conservative obstructionists prevent Congress from taking bolder action? Will American voters respond to truthful rhetoric that emphasizes long-term solutions over short-sighted pandering?

The answer appears to be, yes.

In the presidential race, both Sens. Hillary Clinton and John McCain advocated a summer “holiday” from paying the gas tax. In contrast, Sen. Barack Obama argued that a temporary gas tax suspension wouldn’t amount to much savings, harm infrastructure, lose jobs, and fail to solve the underlying problem of excessive oil consumption and lack of renewable fuels.

We know that Clinton’s position was not enough to reverse her fortunes within the Democratic primary electorate, but what about with the nation as a whole?

Well, the CBS/NY Times poll taken from May 1-3 (PDF file) asked if “removing the federal tax on gasoline for the summer months [is] a good idea or a bad idea.”

Slightly more said it was a bad idea (49%) than good (45%). Further it appears that the “good” number was artificially buoyed by loyal Clinton supporters receptive to the messenger, considering that independent voters were more strongly opposed to the gas tax cut (60%) than Democrats (50%).

Also, yesterday’s ABC/W. Post poll conducted May 8-11 asked voters “who do you trust more to handle gasoline prices,” Obama or McCain.

Obama crushes McCain by 20 percentage points.

My friends, straight talk on gas prices has political benefits.

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