Because who knows when if ever there will be another opportunity to say this about a UNR professor who gets quoted in the media, it should be noted that economist Tom Cargill is right: The McCain-Clinton plan to cut federal gas taxes is an insult (RGJ).
The price of gasoline is so high that taking 18.4 cents off the price of a gallon isn't going to help anybody in any meaningful way — or as Barack Obama put it, a gas tax holiday isn't about getting consumers through the summer, it's about getting McCain and Clinton through an election.
It's tempting to throw the McCain-Clinton gas tax holiday scheme in with other useless ideas touted by Republicans, such as...
- Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. At peak production after several years and by the most optimistic estimates, ANWR would reduce America's dependence on foreign oil from 62 percent of the nation's supply all the way down to ... 60 percent. And it would have only a negligible impact on global market prices, if any at all.
- More nuclear power. House Minority Leader John Boehner, a beloved mentor to Nevada's very own Rep. Jon Porter and a man who has done much to nurture the local hack/dork/cad's humiliating and sycophantic approach to the oil industry, has been telling anyone who will listen that the way to reduce gas prices is to increase the nation's use of nuclear energy. Leaving aside for the moment that virtually no one in the national credit and banking community has shown any interest whatsoever in investing in an industry renowned in financial circles primarily for exorbitant expenses, cost overruns and an inability to operate, let alone compete, without a steady stream of government subsidies, it also turns out that no major auto manufacturers in this or any other country have yet to develop plans for the nuclear powered SUV.
But the gas tax holiday might actually be even worse than those stupid ideas. For one thing, it is something that Congress could actually do. And if it came to pass, it would further starve an already inadequate funding stream that is needed not only to maintain and repair America's crumbling infrastructure, but also to develop fast and efficient mass transportation systems that would come in really handy right about now.
People who are getting hit hardest by the world's dysfunctional oil market are the people at the lower end of the income scale. Gas prices are quickly and severely eroding the standard of living in Nevada and the nation. People are scrambling, scrimping, hurting and pissed. And politicians add insult to injury by floating a disingenuous tax gimmick that does very little to help in the short term and only makes matters worse in the long term.
Which raises the obvious question: Where's Bob Beers?
Back in 2006 when the War Party state senator was running for governor and telling everyone that Jim Gibbons was a liberal, Beers proposed eliminating the state gas tax. At 17.65 cents per gallon, the tax is nearly identical to the federal rate and so axing it would be every bit as helpful to consumers as the McCain-Clinton scheme, i.e., it's an insult.
Eliminating the tax would, however, bury the state's budget even deeper into the hole and put even more delays on much-needed state infrastructure projects (which are among the best local economic stimulants there are, by the way). Beers has a record of irresponsibly pissing away the public's money, so you'd think he'd be all over this outstanding opportunity to kick government while it's down.
And if eliminating the tax was a good idea in 2006 when a gallon of gas was going for $2.50 or less per gallon, surely it must be a great idea now when it's topping $3.60.
Brainlessly killing a tax is the surest way to a Paultard's heart (a consideration for Beers of late). But more importantly, by showing a little consistency, Beers could also remind his voters just how much better shape the state would be in, fiscally, if only Nevada would have listened to him and eliminated the state gas tax two years ago.