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. Adam

    When are the republicans (and apparently now hillary too) going to stop telling us that we can buy our way out of this recession? Is that really the only solution that they have?

    "Here, America, go spend the little money you have left so that you can 'stimulate' the economy."

    Give me a break. How about having a president that actually understands our needs?

    May 1, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  2. JJ

    I think McCain might be missing the point – heard an interview on fox where he said "Listen, we gave that negro a holiday over my objection. Now it's only fair that the oil companies get a holiday, too. They've done a lot for this country".

    May 1, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  3. Kim

    I am SO happy to see that the American public isn't falling for this idiocy!!!! Obama is right - and is a MUCH stronger politician than the other 2 - because he is standing up against this even with tabloid-esque headlines like "Clinton and McCain want to provide relief at the pumps; Obama against it". If this isn't sensationalist media, I don't know what is.

    When will people see that this race is over? The media are keeping it alive because they are RAKING IN THE DOUGH in ad buys!!!!

    Obama '08

    May 1, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  4. Betty SC

    Did Bush agree to this plan that you and Hillary is pushing. You are traveling in you wife jet so why you think the American people will think you and Hillary can do anything.

    May 1, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  5. Pat

    What an out of touch elitist. The $18 savings means nothing. When's the last time he looked at the price of school supplies. What a joke and an insult to the American public. Stop with the band-aid tactics and get to work on a credible solution.

    May 1, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  6. Hans-Erik Iken

    That 'tax break' will not help anybody except maybe the oil companies to sell a little bit more.

    Unbelievably naive to think this would have any impact on the very real economic problems the country is having.

    Want to save money? Stop wasting it in Iraq and invest that in the USA.

    12 Billion dollars a month will buy a lot of relief for the suffering people of the USA.......

    May 1, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  7. joe

    People, wake up. tell them to keep their lousy gas tax.
    Stop trying to feed me your table scraps and cut out the nonsense.
    real issues- trade imbalance, corporate corrupttion & bailouts. how about a real energy policy? How about a national vision and goal of diversified energy sources by 2020. say 50% non oil or coal.
    a rising tide raises all boats. and pleeeease, stop insulting our inteligence with nonsense from washington and their insiders. time to let everyone sit at the table again boys.

    May 1, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  8. GL


    It's not just the $5.00 a gallon price we'll be left with after summer. Add the $5.00 loaf of bread and the $6.00 gallon of milk that will immediately follow. How do you think anything that you purchase gets to market? (It is driven there). When freight companies wind up paying $6/$7 a gallon for diesel at the end of summer, who do you think is going to cover that increase? Certainly not them, nor the retailers they deliver too... we'll be paying for that as well.

    Brilliant plan McCain. I see you've really thought this one through.

    Way past BITTER.

    May 1, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  9. GARY

    Please remove "cam from kentucky"

    May 1, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  10. tina

    When will he realize that this is NOT going to help. Its so obvious that the gas tax WILL be recouped by the oil companies. We need real change! Did you hear this morning how much profit they are making per hour? And this is total profit. They only care about the bottom line, and McCain only cares about who is padding his wallet, not ours!!

    May 1, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  11. Lonnie H.

    Is the media ignoring this? CNN, what's the problem? At least post this one...

    Los Angeles Judge Saves Hillary's Presidential Bid

    In the landmark civil fraud case against Bill Clinton in Los Angeles, where the former President is charged with defrauding a Hollywood dot com millionaire to help Hillary Clinton obtain more than $1.2 million from him for her 2000 Senate campaign, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Aurelio Munoz ruled on Friday, April 25 that Hillary Clinton would not be required to testify in a sworn deposition as a material witness in the case until AFTER the November election!

    Lonnie H.- Toledo, OH

    May 1, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  12. Ken

    You neo-nuggets who support this "gas tax holiday" are probably the same ones who elected our current disaster-in-charge to office, TWICE. You believe the snakeoil man when he sells you his relief - but in this case he's the same person who made you sick in the first place. The price rise in a gallon of gas over the last year alone is triple the value of the gas tax - so by all means, take your $0.25 rebate, while they rasie the price by another $0.75 – $1.00 - by all means let's take the quick money, and ignore the fix to the real problem.

    McCain and his party supports policies that will tend to keep the price of oil on the rise. They will put billions more money in the pockets of big oil corporations and foreign governments, while saving you pennies on the backs of your fellow hardworking Americans - construction workers who are paid to do useful work on our American infrastructure out of those taxes. And you people call yourselves patriotic - pathetic!!!! You represent the decaying of Americ from within.

    May 1, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  13. Trollmaster

    McCain must think Americans are stupid if he thinks the people are going to fall for his plan. (or lack of one actually)

    There's no plan at all about what to do with the lack of revenue that will occur, and there's no reason the gouging oil companies won't raise gas prices up even further.

    May 1, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  14. Donald from SC


    If the American citizens need the extra 20 bucks to pay their cell phone bills, then maybe they don't need the cell phone. STOP CALLING THE AMERICAN PEOPLE STUPID!

    May 1, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  15. AJ, IL

    AMEN Kim!!!!!....I feel like we are in the middle of a presidential general election already with three candidates, Democrat Obama, Republican McCain, and "don't-know-what-she-wants-to-be-a-Republican-or-Democrat " Hillary.

    The media wants the Democratic primaries to continue due the revenues and ratings they are generating. When Hillary was the front-runner the media pushed her campaign gaffes. When Obama is now the front-runner the media is pushing his campaign gaffes.

    Cable news channels like CNN, FOX, and MSNBC have spent much of their shows covering the 2008 Presidential race, mostly on the Democratic side.

    If Obama's poll numbers rebound over the three weeks with wins in Guam, North Carolina, and Indiana, he will regain presidential momentum.

    May 1, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  16. kathleen retired Professional w/woman for obama

    He doesn't have a clue and he don't care!!!!
    All of a sudden, he cares about Katrina, jobs and gas prices!
    Wonder Why, Oh, Why!!!!!

    May 1, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  17. kathleen retired Professional w/woman for obama

    Bill will continue to make Millions from Dubai and Columbia and
    Hillary won't even notice!!!! Right in front of her nose and a quick
    walk to the Lobbyists, Congressmen, and Senate and Judges.
    Scam. Scam. Scam.

    May 1, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  18. kathleen retired Professional w/woman for obama

    Bill will continue to make Millions from Dubai and Columbia and
    Hillary won't even notice!!!! Right in front of her nose and a quick
    walk to the Lobbyists, Congressmen, and Senate and Judges.
    Worlds greatest scam artists.

    May 1, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  19. mario

    I heard Hillary will switch to the Republican party and offer McCain to be her Vice President 😉

    May 1, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  20. Obama '08 & '12



    May 1, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  21. DJ, LA, CA

    Memo to John:

    You can drill all the Alaskan oil, pander to the special interest oil lobbies,
    and talk about election year gimmicks all you want however guest what?

    Drilling more oil, tax breaks, and more perk for your oil executive golfing pals won't reduce demand 1 bit.

    May 1, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  22. Chi4Obama

    I would trust Rev. Wright with economic issues, before I would McCain (well almost). But nonethless, McCain's proposal reaffirms his short-sightedness. He has readily admitted that he doesn't know "much about the economy". Every notable analyst has called this gas tax holiday a bad idea. And yet he is still the Republicans' best option for President?

    I'm casting my ballot for the "inexperienced", "elitist" from Chicago. At least he has the judgement to see the big picture.

    May 1, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  23. Frank

    Wow. So McCain and Hillary persist in saying this is a good thing, despite all the independent economists? That's because they think people are too stupid to investigate themselves, or that we don't read or pay attention to anything other than Fox News.
    People who persist in voting for those two deserve them.

    Sadly, they are right about some people.
    Witness on this very post – Marg, Cam of Kentucky, Uncle Sam, Shirley P, Jon, DC Insider (yeah right), Spider, and Sharon of Minnesota who thinks economists are fortune tellers....
    Hillary Clinton has taken more money from lobbyist and special interests than any Democrat or Republican in this race, and we all have heard how John McCain has been in bed with the lobbyist – if you believe these 2 people are interested in you, then you are sadly mistaken.

    May 1, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  24. Sharon Minnesota

    Just watching Wolf's Situation Room. Why is it that on this show the Obama guy gets to call Hillary's plan for relief of gas price a fairy tale when Bill Clinton was called a racist when he said those two "controversial words"?

    Hillary Clinton is the only candidate who has addressed both short and long term solutions to the gas price crises.

    What's up with Barack Obama and his negative and snarky remarks on this subject?

    May 1, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  25. Mike from Calgary, Canada

    He can promise anything now – to do something before Bush leaves office. Instead of the BS, get fellow Republican Bush moving – just don't move along I-35 Highway or ove any bridges on the Interstate highways.


    May 1, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
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