GRAHAM, North Carolina (CNN) – Hillary Clinton rolled out a new plan to help ease the burden of high gas prices, along with fresh criticism of presumptive Republican nominee John McCain – whose campaign continued a recent war of words with Barack Obama over his own proposal for relief at the pump.
After briefly touching on it Sunday night, Hillary Clinton rolled out proposed legislation Monday morning to ease the burden of high gas prices by removing the tax on gas and instead taxing oil companies for “windfall” profits.
“I understand that the American people need some relief and you see I think we want to show that the government can actually work for hardworking Americans again,” Clinton told supporters at a North Carolina campaign event.
The plan would temporarily remove the tax drivers pay on gas for the summer, and shift that burden to oil companies that earn “enormous” profits. An average profit would be calculated for the oil companies, and anything over 10 percent higher than that average would be taxed 50 percent.
Clinton argued that the gas tax holiday paired with the tax on “big oil” would maintain funding for the Highway Trust Fund that is charged with maintaining and building roads and highways.
Clinton criticized both of her presidential opponents for their positions on the issue, saying “Senator McCain says he’s all for a gas tax holiday but won’t pay for it” and “my opponent, Senator Obama, opposes giving consumers a break.”
McCain put forward similar legislation as part of his economic plan, also proposing the elimination of gas taxes for the summer months but funding the Highway Trust Fund "by transferring monies from the General Treasury.” Obama is against the idea altogether, calling it “a short-term quick fix” and arguing that a gas tax holiday won’t have an effect on long-term gas prices.
Both have focused their fire on each other over the idea for the past several days. Neither has yet responded to Clinton’s attacks.
Obama called McCain’s plan ineffective at a Wilmington, North Carolina campaign event Monday, telling the crowd it was “typical of how Washington works…a short-term quick fix… You’ll never see the savings. Then we pretend like we did something.”
“…If it lasts for 3 months, you'll save about 25 or 30 dollars. Or half a tank of gas. That’s his big solution,” he said of McCain, who attacked Obama over the issue Sunday.
“And he had the gall yesterday to tell me that obviously since I didn’t agree with his plan I must not be sympathetic to poor people, this at the same time he’s proposing hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks for corporate Americans…
McCain’s campaign said Obama was back-tracking on support for a gas tax holiday while he served as an Illinois state senator. They also said his characterization of the Arizona senator’s proposals were inaccurate.
“It’s clear Barack Obama’s not strong enough to provide immediate relief at the pump, and it shows he doesn’t understand our economy or have the ability to deliver for hardworking Americans,” said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds. “Senator Obama’s arguments against John McCain’s gas tax holiday are complete fiction, and the reality is that he used to support a gas tax holiday before he was running for President.”