Clinton Gas Tax Holiday: Hillary Attacks Economists
UPDATE: Former Clinton labor secretary, and now Obama supporter, Robert Reich, asks some Clinton economic advisers about her comments this morning:
When asked this morning by ABC News' George Stephanopoulos if she could name a single economist who backs her call for a gas tax holiday this summer, HRC said "I'm not going to put my lot in with economists."
I know several of the economists who have been advising Senator Clinton, so I phoned them right after I heard this. I reached two of them. One hadn't heard her remark and said he couldn't believe she'd say it. The other had heard it and shrugged it off as "politics as usual."
That's the problem: Politics as usual.
The gas tax holiday is small potatoes relative to everything else. But it's so economically stupid (it would increase demand for gas and cause prices to rise, eliminating any benefit to consumers while costing the Treasury more than $9 billion, and generate more pollution) and silly (even if she won, HRC won't be president this summer) is worrisome. That HRC now says she doesn't care that what economists think is even more troubling.
Meanwhile, Politico's Ben Smith notes that Clinton's campaign is arguing that the gas tax distinction is a character issue:
Clinton has been sharpening her argument that policy distinctions between the candidates -- on health care, on banning foreclosures and on the gas tax -- are really a character issue, making her in touch and Obama out of touch.
Clinton aide Howard Wolfson put it as clearly as the campaign has on a conference call just now. Obama, he said, is "somebody who just doesn't seem to understand that middle-class families are hurting, working-class families are hurting, that they need relief. He would rather side with the oil companies over the interest of middle-class families."
Sen. Hillary Clinton is sticking to her policy proposal of a gas tax holiday, and the breadth of her now-famous statement that members of Congress are either "with us or against us" has been extended to economists. Today she joined George Stephanopoulos for a "This Week" town hall.
When asked to name a credible economist who backed her idea to use a windfall profit tax against oil companies to fund the suspension of a tax on gasoline, Clinton responded:
"I'm not going to put my lot in with economists"... Clinton added that the tax holiday would work "if we actually did it right."
She continued the line of attack, criticizing more generally "this mindset where elite opinion is always on the side of doing things that really disadvantage the vast majority of Americans."
Clinton's proposal has met widespread resistance from policy analysts of all political persuasions.