TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Tax Foundation: More Tax Nonsense From McCain

From the Tax Foundation's Tax Policy Blog:

This morning on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, John McCain was interviewed by Stephanopoulos. And during a discussion on energy, McCain mentions his gas tax holiday proposal as a way to relieve consumers, and then Stephanopoulos steps in.

Stephanopoulos: There's not a single economist in the country that says that will work.

McCain: And there's no economist in the country that knows very well the low-income American who drives the furthest in the oldest automobile that sometimes can't even afford to go to work.

Stephanopoulos: But they (referring to economist) all say that they aren't going to get the benefit. The oil companies, the gas companies are going to absorb in production.

McCain: You know they say that. But one, it didn't happen before. And two, we wouldn't let it happen. We wouldn't let it happen. Americans wouldn't let them absorb that.

Stephanopoulos: How would you prevent that?

McCain: We would make them shamed into it. We of course know how to...American public opinion. And we would penalize them if necessary. But they wouldn't. They would pass it along.

Penalize them if necessary? Does John McCain know what that entails? Does he understand that such a policy is de facto price controls? Of course he doesn't. That's because he doesn't know what he's talking about on this issue. ...

Back to McCain's interview. The question before the gas tax holiday was brought up, there was this exchange:

Stephanopoulos: The majority of Americans think you're going to come in. They look at your tax plans and say you're going to be just like President Bush on the economy. What would you do right now, spending aside, that would be different from what Pres. Bush is doing?

McCain: Well, I would give every family in America a double their exemption for on the child tax, children's tax, dependent tax break from $3,500 to $7,000. I would declare that we will scrub every agency of government, eliminate those that are [not] necessary. I will veto every single pork-barrel bill that comes across my desk and make them famous. I will promise that we will not only keep tax cuts low, but we will have additional incentives for American investment and growth of jobs. And I will set and embark on immediate, an immediate effort to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil. Nuclear power, off-shore drilling, wind, tide, solar, and stop this drain of $700 billion a year from the American economy...(goes on to mention gas tax holiday, see above.)

So McCain brags about how he wants to reduce spending at the same time he tells us that he will double the personal exemption for dependents. ...

Combined with the gas tax holiday, the doubling of the personal exemption for dependents (phased in over next few years) is McCain's worst tax policy proposal. And that's funny, because these are the two that he cites the most in public.

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Also, if you wanted to cut dependence on foreign oil, a pigovian gas tax would seem to be one of the approaches to consider. Not cutting the gas tax.

Posted by: Anyone for Pigou? | Jul 28, 2008 6:12:23 AM