Gas Price Fixes that Won't
May 2, 2008
McCain, Clinton call for gas tax relief that really isn't, while Bush dredges up old ideas with a variety of problems.
Hillary Clinton and John McCain are offering overburdened motorists a federal "gasoline tax holiday." But economists say that the proposal is unlikely to actually lower the price of gasoline. McCain's plan would essentially give federal funds to oil refineries, while the net effect of Clinton's plan probably wouldn't be much at all, although it would create a lot of new administrative work.
President Bush took another tack, dusting off a couple of golden oldies that he said would help halt the escalation in motorists' costs: allowing companies to drill for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and encouraging construction of more refineries.
But opening up ANWR would lead to a negligible bump in world oil supply, and would provide barely five percent of what the U.S. consumes today. The spigot wouldn't even be fully opened until the mid 2020's -- if Congress acts now, which isn't at all likely. And Bush fails to acknowledge that investors aren't interested in building refineries for strong business reasons that go beyond the tangled permitting process.