Thomas Friedman is Back: Gas Tax Holiday "Dumb" and Energy Policy Even Worse

Thomas Friedman is back from his sabbatical with a wonderful column  criticizing the "McCain-Clinton" gas tax holiday.

It is great to see that we finally have some national unity on energy policy. Unfortunately, the unifying idea is so ridiculous, so unworthy of the people aspiring to lead our nation, it takes your breath away. Hillary Clinton has decided to line up with John McCain in pushing to suspend the federal excise tax on gasoline, 18.4 cents a gallon, for this summer's travel season. This is not an energy policy. This is money laundering: we borrow money from China and ship it to Saudi Arabia and take a little cut for ourselves as it goes through our gas tanks. What a way to build our country.

When the summer is over, we will have increased our debt to China, increased our transfer of wealth to Saudi Arabia and increased our contribution to global warming for our kids to inherit.

No, no, no, we'll just get the money by taxing Big Oil, says Mrs. Clinton. Even if you could do that, what a terrible way to spend precious tax dollars -- burning it up on the way to the beach rather than on innovation?

The McCain-Clinton gas holiday proposal is a perfect example of what energy expert Peter Schwartz of Global Business Network describes as the true American energy policy today: "Maximize demand, minimize supply and buy the rest from the people who hate us the most."

Good for Barack Obama for resisting this shameful pandering.

Friedman goes on to talk about how warped our energy priorities are.

Few Americans know it, but for almost a year now, Congress has been bickering over whether and how to renew the investment tax credit to stimulate investment in solar energy and the production tax credit to encourage investment in wind energy. The bickering has been so poisonous that when Congress passed the 2007 energy bill last December, it failed to extend any stimulus for wind and solar energy production. Oil and gas kept all their credits, but those for wind and solar have been left to expire this December. I am not making this up. At a time when we should be throwing everything into clean power innovation, we are squabbling over pennies.

The entire column is here: n/30friedman.html?_r=2&hp&oref=s login&oref=slogin

This goes to the larger issue of our energy policy.  We need real leadership in Washington from our next president, whether its Sen. Clinton or Sen. Obama to promote a sound energy policy that will encourage development of alternative energy sources and discourage the continued exploitation of fossil fuels.  It's a win (better environment), win (less dependency on foreign oil, win (less borrowing money from China, etc.) situation.

Tags: Barack Obama, gas, Hillary Clinton, John McCain (all tags)



Re: Tips, thoughts, comments....

We need a new energy policy now.  A gas holiday will only make the problem worse.

by mefck 2008-04-30 10:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Tips, thoughts, comments....

A gas holiday or gas-tax relief plan will do no such thing.  It will simply lower the cost of gas relative to the price being asked by the "market".  It is a temporary fix, and only a slight relief in the overall sense of our "Energy Policy".  It is not intended to fix the National Energy Policy or be a portender as the first volley in such an attempt.

It is simply a device to give temporary and immediate relief to not just 'consumer' drivers, but those who are 'industry' drivers as well.  The component of inflation that is squeezing consumers available purchasing power can be in part releated to the high transportation costs associated with bringing goods and services to market.  A relief for those 'industry' drivers can in part be a huge relief for the individuals who transport and their families, as well as a small "rebate" to the consumer drivers who will need every dime they can get before the summer is over.

by TxDem08 2008-04-30 11:49AM | 0 recs
Prepared to lose all posting rights on MYDD

High gas prices may be the only good thing to come out of Bush's presidency.  Too bad they're high because the oil companies are raking in profits rather than due to large investments in viable alternatives to the one-person-one-car-15,000 miles annually model.

by the mollusk 2008-04-30 10:13AM | 0 recs
I used to like Thomas Friedman

until he lost his mind totally and supported 10000% Bush invasion of Iraq. I quite frankly do not read him at all.

As for our candidates, both of them have nice energy plans that are very similar. If only Bush took 10% of these two plans and applied them in the last 8 years, we would have not been this strapped. Moreover, i think Friedman is wrong when he says that oil prices are going to go down. I think don't they are going to stay at the $120 barrel, but most experts do not see the price of the barrel going lower than $80-$90 range.

by likelihood zero 2008-04-30 10:13AM | 0 recs
Re: I used to like Thomas Friedman

Well that's just a lie: ml?res=9904E1D8153EF931A25750C0A9659C8B6 3

by mefck 2008-04-30 10:16AM | 0 recs
Re: I used to like Thomas Friedman

He said several times on TV and in his columns that he supports the invasion as long as it is done well.

He said over and over that If Saddam is removed and democracy is established, it could affect and spread Democracy in the Middle East. This is exactly what Wolfowitz said and argued forcefully for and the crowd who believe in the democratic peace theory and Friedman is a big believer in it too.

Also, I heard him on the News Hour saying "The road to peace for the Palestinians and the Israelis passes through Baghdad. We just have to do it right." And another time talking about the merit of the war, he said "it is not because Bush said it that it has to be wrong"

My friend, Friedman drunk the Kool-Aid by the gallons.

Even in the link you provided, he says "Removing Saddam -- with his obsession to obtain weapons of mass destruction -- ending his tyranny and helping to nurture a more progressive Iraq that could spur reform across the Arab-Muslim world are the best long-term responses to bin Ladenism. Some things are true even if George Bush believes them."

Please, refrain from using the word lie and insulting people. We can have conversation in a respectful way without being nasty.

by likelihood zero 2008-04-30 10:34AM | 0 recs
Re: I used to like Thomas Friedman

You're 100% right about the namecalling.  Sorry I said it was a lie.

When I have more time, I delve into the substance of your comments and respond.

by mefck 2008-04-30 10:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Thomas Friedman is Back

EVERY economist thinks this is a bad idea.

by politicsmatters 2008-04-30 10:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Thomas Friedman is Back

EVERY economist?  I don't think so.  Will it have an overall effect on prices in the longer term? --No.  Will it change anything in regards to our National Energy Policy? --No.

Will it give some temporary albeit small relief to back-end market forces and consumers? --Yes.

It's something...and better than nothing.

by TxDem08 2008-04-30 12:19PM | 0 recs
Clinton's plan still funds infrastructure

This isn't a bad idea as long as you pay for the infrastructure from other sources, as Clinton wants to do.  People should stop trying to equate Bush and Clinton or McCain and Clinton - it's getting really old...

Besides, long term, Clinton and Obama's energy and green policies are very similar.  The difference is Clinton will win more votes with her short-term plan, and save some middle class people some money.  If that's what it takes to win the White House, I'm all for it!

by mikes101 2008-04-30 11:32AM | 0 recs
Re:Friedman of the "Friedman" unit?

That is, a six month period; derived from multiple columns/TV appearances in which this ME "expert"  stated that "the next six month period [of the war] will be critical," into infinity.  

With his record of being wrong about everything for the past 5 years, I'll need to be convinced that he knows what he's talking about here.  On the other hand, Paul Krugman agrees with Friedman on this.    


by half nelson 2008-04-30 01:31PM | 0 recs


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