MAY 7TH, 2008 | Harkin for Senate
By Jane Norman, Register Washington Bureau
“If you could assure me we could put money in the pockets of our consumers, I would be for it,” Harkin said. “What’s to keep oil companies from only cutting the cost a nickel and pocketing the rest?”
Washington, D.C. – Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Ia., today threw cold water on the idea of a gasoline tax holiday, saying it’s a bad idea that probably won’t ever be taken up by Congress.
Two presidential candidates, Republican John McCain and Democrat Hillary Clinton, both have said they back the idea of a moratorium for the summer travel months in the interests of providing relief to strapped consumers. The third major presidential candidate, Democrat Barack Obama, is opposed, saying it’s an election gimmick and won’t save that much money.
Clinton has been on the attack on the issue as she campaigns in Indiana and North Carolina. She maintains consumers need help now.
Harkin said in a conference call with Iowa reporters that he doubts oil companies would bring prices would go down if a tax holiday was declared. “If you could assure me we could put money in the pockets of our consumers, I would be for it,” he said. “What’s to keep oil companies from only cutting the cost a nickel and pocketing the rest?”
In addition, he said, the summer road construction season is coming up and the highway trust fund depends upon tax revenue. If the fund was cut, it could cost jobs, Harkin said.
For a short-term fix, the government instead should consider either suspending the purchase of oil for the strategic reserve or even letting some oil out of the reserve, Harkin said. “We don’t need it right now,” he said.
The federal gasoline tax makes up 18.4 cents of the cost of a gallon of gas.
On Wednesday, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Ia., said he had “mixed emotions” as to whether a tax holiday was good policy, despite McCain’s support for it.
“It sounds good but it’s not good policy, to quote Senator Grassley,” said Harkin.