Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Tax stupidity and pay off the national debt

The latest tom-foolery to come out of the American presidential campaign is the so called Gas Tax Holiday. McCain and then Clinton have proposed that the US government stop collecting a tax on petrol for the summer.

This is supposed to have to positive effects. First, by reducing the price of gas it's meant to help cut costs for people. This would lead to the second, which is that the people who are spending less money on gas will spend it on other things and this will help the economy.

While it is a terrible idea, I do like the fact that someone is proposing that the government collect less taxes.

Now for a list of reasons why I think this is a bad idea. First, the US government is already running a massive deficit. It makes little sense to reduce revenue without cutting expenses to at least compensate. Second, people might be happy at the cut in prices at the start of the holiday, but no one is going to be overjoyed when prices go back up in September. Third, who doesn't expect the gas companies to raise prices by an amount similar to the tax cut to get that much more money.

The other thing that bugs me about this is that Clinton and McCain are making this proposal as part of their presidential campaign, but the plan is to cut the taxes between the end of May and the start of September, while the election is in November. This seems like outright bribery of voters.

The good parts of this story is that Obama has not supported this ridiculous idea. That means he's the one who's not saying they don't trust economists on economics. He's the one who doesn't want to buy votes by cutting taxes. He's the on who isn't copying a Republican's crazy scheme.

The other good thing is that while McCain and Clinton are crazy about the idea, everyone else seems to realise that it's a crazy idea and are calling them on it. The media is asking tough (well toughish) questions, and it's not getting anywhere in the actual senate, where all three of them still have actual jobs to do (do the citizens of New York, Arizona and Illinois feel that they're not getting their money's worth out of their senators this year? All three of them seem so busy campaigning they don't have time for senatoring).

Writing time: 23 minutes
Time since last post: 3 days
Current media: Scrubs

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