Gas Tax Holiday

The gas tax holiday took a hit tonight, as Hillary Clinton got creamed in North Carolina and barely edged out a victory in Indiana. John McCain should learn this lesson, drop the idea and move on to talking about the deeper problem behind the steep increase in gas prices, which is the declining value of the dollar.

McCain and Clinton tried to tag-team Barack Obama on this issue. But that played to Obama's argument that he is the authentic candidate who is willing to speak truth to power.

There are a couple of problems with declaring a gas tax holiday. First, it ain't going anywhere. House and Senate leaders declared it dead, and the White House was against it, a rare moment of bipartisan accord. Second, it has been tried before and has done nothing to make the voters swoon. For most voters, it is the same old, same old. Third, compared to the sharp increase in energy prices, the small amount of money that would be returned to the voters is less than minimal. Finally, a gas tax holiday is bad policy. The money goes to shore up bridges and fix roads.

Obama desperately needed to change the subject from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, his erstwhile pastor who did his best to sink the Illinois senator's candidacy. The gas tax issue worked quite nicely for Obama.

McCain has a good answer on the steep increase in energy prices: Shore up the value of the dollar by cutting spending. He should go back to his best attribute — straight talk — and drop the talk about a gas tax holiday. It was a loser for Hillary this evening. It will not be a winning issue for McCain this summer.

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