Friday, May 02, 2008

Shell game

By Capt. Fogg

Hillary Clinton and John McCain agree, at least to the extent that they support a gasoline tax holiday this Summer. John is pandering to families with children, saying this will help them buy school supplies. Hillary is pandering to anti-corporate sentiments by saying this will take money from the deep pockets of the Oil oligarchy. Both seem to be pandering to the " not thinking too clearly."

Alison Fitzgerald at says that economists in general aren't buying it. A projected savings of $35, spread over the tax holiday isn't going to be very useful, and particularly when acquired a buck or two at a time. The retailers aren't likely to reduce prices very much and the overall ten billion dollar tax revenue will be directed back to the refiners and must of course, reduce the general revenue; a loss that will have to be made up elsewhere. All in all, it looks like a shell game to me and an Exxon Mobil game and a BP game and even a Citgo game.

Clinton is pushing the estimate of a $70 savings to consumers, but Ethan Harris, chief U.S. economist at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., said families would save only about $18 a month. Burman estimated the total savings from Memorial Day to Labor Day at $28. Even if the savings actually materialized "it would be chump change," he said. An extra beer here and there, a couple of packs of cigarettes and there won't be much left for Johnnies new backpack.

But to a nation of chumps, conditioned to slobber like Pavlov's dogs at the phrase "tax cut," it may seem like a good deal. We usually do sit up and beg when a candidate offers to put a dollar in our pocket while sending us a bill for five bucks plus interest and fees. We'll take the nickels and dimes while the roads and bridges continue to crumble and our transportation system, already about the worst in the first world, gets worse and the war grinds on and on.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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