Maybe it's all the whiskey and beer she swilled with the common people of Pennsylvania. Maybe it's the fatty foods she's been eating with people like us common folk impairing her judgment. Maybe it's good old pandering. But something has turned otherwise bright and intelligent Hillary Clinton into a damned fool.
Clinton has joined with John McCain in endorsing a gas tax holiday that would stretch through the summer travel months, an idea that Barack Obama appears to have rejected out of hand. Yes, Barack and a number of leading economists.
The idea is simple enough: during the summer months, you would pay no federal gas tax on your gasoline. The tax works out to a little more than 18 cents per gallon, so, if you pump nearly 11 gallons at a time like me, you'd save a whole two bucks. That two bucks makes a world of difference to Senator Clinton, who touts the plan as a way to cut the burden on us, the underclass. Nevermind the fact that the increased demand on gasoline would, probably, hugely increase already massive oil company profits.
Senator Clinton's idea is dumb, and there seems to be no serious support for it. I'd be mildly shocked if it ever came to fruition, and I say mildly because we do actually live in an era of zero responsible leadership. My problem is what it represents. First, in my mind, it shows no reflection or serious thought on Clinton's part. You endorse this kind of idea when you are thinking of getting votes only, and avoid considering the long-term ramifications of an plan like this. She is a bright person, and when bright people make terrible decisions, you must question their motivation. She's desperate to paint herself as the people's candidate, so desperate that she's willing to eschew reason to get a vote. Poor show, Senator.
Second, this "fix" demonstrates our national ignorance to the energy problem. We're dumb, writes Thomas Friedman. There is no leadership on national energy policy. No one is willing to go out on a limb and explain how we'll reduce our dependence on oil, how we'll reform our industry to address the rising cost of energy, and (inexplicably) no one is touting the benefits that naturally occur when an economy jettisons old tech for cutting-edge tech. Some people, like Vermont Law School's Energy Institute, understand the problem, though it is questionable whether they see the totality of the problem, or whether they only grasp the environmental aspect of it. We clearly need some ideas.
So, I have one. If our government doesn't want the two bucks for each fill-up, instead of cutting the tax, let's redirect it. Take the two bucks from every fill-up and create a giant investment fund. Some non-partisan, government group will administer it. We'll send use the money to figure out what the hell is wrong with us, how to fix it, and to invest in smart companies that can, well, save our world.
But, that'll never happen.