May 1st, 2008
03:18 PM ET
14 years ago

McCain unyielding in call for gas tax relief

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="John McCain said there should be a federal gas tax holiday."]
CLEVELAND, Ohio (CNN) - John McCain continued his push Thursday for a federal gas tax holiday that would eliminate the 18.4-cents-per-gallon gas tax and 24.4-cent diesel tax during the summer travel season.

McCain is framing the gas tax debate as a simple choice between helping working families or continuing to stifle their income with high prices at the pump.

“The lamentations of people about the draconian consequences of giving Americans just a little relief for the summer continues to amaze and amuse me,” McCain said at a press conference here, after touring the Cleveland Clinic to learn about new health information technology.

“I’d like to see families in America have a relief from ever increasing costs of gasoline,” he said, “so maybe at the end of the summer after this tax holiday they could buy school supplies for their children as they start the school year.”

Despite a chorus of criticism from independent experts who believe a gax tax holiday amounts to nothing more than ploy for votes that will do little to address long-term energy concerns, McCain and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton have held firm in their calls for a temporary suspension of the tax.

Barack Obama opposes the plan, calling it a “gimmick” and arguing that it would divert revenues away from crucial infrastructure maintenance nationwide. The Republican National Committee took Obama to task for that position Thursday, releasing a Web ad calling him a hypocrite on the issue because he once supported a gas tax holiday while a state senator.

In many ways, the debate over summer gas tax relief is moot, because none of the presidential candidates would take office until next January. But the back-and-forth has given each candidate a means to appeal to voters concerned with high fuel prices.

McCain said as president he would pay for a gas tax holiday with “general revenues” and the removal of needless pork barrel projects and earmarks from government spending bills.

The Arizona Republican dismissed analysts and critics of the gas tax holiday as out of touch with working Americans who are often forced to drive long distances to work.

“Some of wealthiest people live a very short distance to where they work,” he said. “They live in Georgetown. Some of the people who do really hard work and are low income people live as far as 40 or 50 miles away, and they drive older automobiles. It’s time to give them a little break.”

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (182 Responses)
  1. Venus

    You can already tell Mc Cain and Hillary are a lot like Bush! They do not want to listen to the real facts!

    Go Obama! Can't wait to see you take on Mc Cain!

    May 1, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  2. Toki

    Another unpopular president in the making!!!!

    May 1, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  3. Keith R.

    20$ isn't going to make/break families who are already well enough to be able to afford cars. But it will cause more economic turmoil.

    It's just an appeal to the "discounts!" voice in people. It's a cheap attempt to curry favor. A cheap attempt with a costly price.

    May 1, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  4. Erik

    We can lose fuel taxes PERMANENTLY after reducing the size of state and federal government over the next five years by at least ten percent. Instruct your representatives to prohibit bureaucrats from replacing the retiree who spent endless hours pushing Form XQ-345-R12 across his desk on a hefty government salary. Stop spending tax dollars on pork-barrel projects and silly legislation. Reduce that budget! Lower your fuel taxes!

    May 1, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  5. Carrie

    This gas tax holiday is such a gimmick. Can McCain not come up with something better?

    Is this the sort of thing we can expect from a McCain presidency? And a Clinton presidency, since she's on board with this gimmick too?

    Go Obama!

    May 1, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  6. R.I.F.

    He and Clinton make a perfect pair. They are both only pushing this so hard because Obama opposes it and they are trying to continue to potray him as someone who is out of touch and its sad that some voters won't bother to pick up a newspaper or watch a respectable news show.

    Every economist in the free world thinks that this is a stupid idea that will only drive gas prices up after the summer. If voters fall for this crap then they deserve Clinton or McBush. Hope they spend that $28 wisely.

    Obama '08

    May 1, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  7. James

    Go Obama... Tell McCain and Hillary that you know the economy better.

    May 1, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  8. John M (PA)

    Obama is right. This gas tax relief is a joke. People would save $30 tops IF the price of gas doesn't go up due to increased demand (because of lower prices). That would only serve to bump up the price of gas after the taxes break is done with.

    This plan would not significantly help anyone and would only allow the nation's highway infrastructure to further deteriorate.

    May 1, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  9. Obama in 08, 12

    A fossil talking about fossil fuels.

    May 1, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  10. sue


    Why cant he get a couple experts to tell him that Americans are not stupid enough to believe that this is a solution?!!

    Its obviously a campaign tactic.

    May 1, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  11. honkey white guy from cali

    boy is he out of touch or maybe he has not bought school supplies for his kids in many many years! because last year i spent over 150 bucks on supplies and the gas tax is only going to amount to 18.76 in the end for me so please tell me how it is going to help especially when i start to drive my kids to school and then gas will be back up and even more than it was before!

    Go Obama 08 Yes We Can

    May 1, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  12. McCain Is Too Old!

    Is it me or doe? he look like the Fire marshall in In living color.

    May 1, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  13. Mfelder

    Senator McCain, the President is about to give us a $600 stimulus check. I think that will go a lot further than the $30 we will save over the next 3 months.

    May 1, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  14. murry

    April 15, McCain ask for the gas-tax for the summer, no one has mentioned that the gas prices has risen ever-day...if they get it..the gas is going to be higher than the 18% anyway....

    May 1, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  15. Yes we can!

    we'll be saving an average of $25-$30 over 3 months Woo Hoo!....Both Mccain and Clinton, must think we're takes money away from transportation and infrastructure funds....all we hear is 18.5% and people jump on board with Yeah, they are giving solutions...and then Obama is slammed for voting against it...that doesn't stop the oil companies from jacking up the prices....sounds like the vote on the iraq war all over again...mccain and hillary vote for it and looses....obama votes against it stating we need long term solution and not a quick fix....sounds like great judgement all over again.

    May 1, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  16. Pandering

    McCain and Clinton are pandering to uneducated voters with feel-good do-nothing solutions.

    Obama is standing on principle. At a time when he is hurting in the polls, he is showing true character and a focus on the real issues.

    It remains to be seen whether America wants real solutions or easy answers.

    Go Obama!!

    May 1, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  17. r pomerantz

    What a looer, he should be a man and drop out, before the entire country turns against him. He has no chance in the National Election, McCain is hoping for this, because he knows he can't beat HILL, but he can certainler beat this loser. For 20 years he was a member of Wright's Church, his mentor and he never heard him say anything, What kind of morals does Obama have. Go back under the rock you came from and take your thankless wife with you. Stand up Americans and fight, don't be afraid of being called a racist, this is what this is all iabout. He has divided the country 20 time worse than the 50's and 60's/. Everyone is afraid to tell it like it is. This is all about race and Obama's campaign started it all. STEP DOWN LOSER.

    May 1, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  18. Tanya Kujath

    Democrats, please stop fighting amongst ourselves. McCain is the promising us more of the same. I'm not very happy with the shape our Country is in, are you????? Regardless of who the Democratic nominee is vote for them, I am. Atleast things might get better. Opposed to the same ole, same ole.

    May 1, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  19. Ryan, New York, NY

    McCain freely admitted a few weeks ago that he wasn't very good at economics. So now he comes out with an economic plan that's widely attacked by economists everywhere and he's "amused" by it? Sounds frighteningly similar to Bush's reactions to criticism over the past 7 years.

    May 1, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  20. Dave

    What hogwash. If you do the math, this "holiday" will save the average person perhaps $12 over three months. Whoo-hoo! I'm gonna vote for McCain and buy me some GUM!

    This is typical Republican tactics: try to distract the populace with something that SOUNDS good but doesn't really amount to much. Meanwhile, that lost tax money lets our bridges and highways rot away, and puts the people who'd be fixing them out of work. Great idea, McCain! Keep pushing for more like that one and the Democrats will have an easy time getting the White House despite this primary mess!

    May 1, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  21. Scott, Cincinnati

    It's kind of like giving a homeless person a nickle, what the heck am I going to buy for a nickle. Nothing. Any more lame ideas McBush. FYI – while the fed gas tax is 18 cents the state tax in Ohio is 28 cents.

    May 1, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  22. Dan (Kirkland, WA)

    This IS nothing but a political tactic. Do the math.

    Let's even round it up to 20cents for regular gas.

    If I fill up once a week on a 15 gallon tank, how much does that save me? $2.25.

    You've got to be kidding... So I'll save, what, maybe $10 a month through the summer? Big deal!

    Even if I end up driving double that it's not a significant enough savings to even be talking about, let alone hammering the crap out of us with it on the stump.

    May 1, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  23. Uncle Sam

    The money saved to our economy could well be in the billions due to the impact the gas tax holiday would have on the transportation of goods.

    May 1, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  24. Cam of Kentucky

    Neither that BOY nor that GAL will be running the White House of this US of A.

    McCain 08

    May 1, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  25. John Wa

    Another Clinton /McCain pander srategy. Old time trickster politics. Are Americans this stupid-Not.

    May 1, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
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