Follow by Email

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Robert Reich's:Gas Tax Holiday

Hillary Clinton Doesn't Listen to Economists

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) as to be worrisome. That HRC now says she doesn’t care that what economists think is even more troubling.

In case you’ve missed it, we now have a president who doesn’t care what most economists think. George W. Bush doesn’t even care what scientists think. He rejects all experts who disagree with his politics. This has led to some extraordinarily stupid policies.

I’m not saying HRC is George Bush. And I'm not suggesting economists have all the answers. But when economists tell a president or a presidential candidate that his or her idea is dumb – and when all respectable economists around America agree that it’s a dumb idea – it’s probably wise for the president or presidential candidate to listen. When the president or candidate doesn’t, and proudly defends the policy by saying she's "not going to put my lot in with economists,” we’ve got a problem, folks.

Even though the summer gas tax holiday is pure hokum, it polls well, which is why HRC and John McCain are pushing it. That Barack Obama is not in favor of it despite its positive polling numbers speaks volumes about the kind of president he’ll be – and the kind of president we’d otherwise get from McCain and HRC.

Haven’t we had enough of politicians who reject facts in favor of short-term poll-driven politics?

No comments: