In case you hadn't heard, McCain and now Clinton are both supporting a "gas-tax holiday," whereby the 18.4 cents per gallon federal tax on gasoline would be suspended during the summer. McCain has no offset for how to pay for it, so really he is going to borrow from the Chinese just like his mentor, President Bush. Clinton wants to charge a windfall profits tax on the oil companies, which is only slightly better. At least she's trying to find a way to offset the loss to the government budget. But the tax has the opposite effect; it causes oil companies to shift profits to their foreign operations because those aren't taxed.
I'm not going to paraphrase Mr. Friedman because he just put it so well:
This is not an energy policy. This is money laundering: we borrow money from China and ship it to Saudi Arabia and take a little cut for ourselves as it goes through our gas tanks. What a way to build our country.
When the summer is over, we will have increased our debt to China, increased our transfer of wealth to Saudi Arabia and increased our contribution to global warming for our kids to inherit.
No, no, no, we’ll just get the money by taxing Big Oil, says Mrs. Clinton. Even if you could do that, what a terrible way to spend precious tax dollars — burning it up on the way to the beach rather than on innovation?
Do Americans really want to drive their SUVs to the beach just to put their heads in the sand?As I said earlier, it's less consumption we're after, not more. Repealing the tax, however temporary, would reveal the government to be the world's greatest enabler. "Gee, I know we need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but we can't kill their summer vacations when gas is $4 a gallon! Let's make it $3.82. That'll give the people what they need!"
I think the government needs to go to a Codependents Anonymous meeting. And we consumers need some kind of program of our own too.