Seven California members of the House of Representatives have jointly signed a statement with 22 of their colleagues in opposition to a campaign-fueled proposal to suspend the federal gas tax this summer, including Bay Area reps. George Miller of Martinez, (pictured on right) Barbara Lee of Oakland and Pete Stark of Fremont.
“American consumers and our economy need a real solution to the energy crisis, not an empty trick,” Miller said. ” You can run cars on a lot of different fuels, but snake oil isn’t one of them.”
Two U.S. Senators, presumptive GOP presidential nominee John McCain of Arizona and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton of New York, support the “tax holiday” as a way to help ease high gas prices.
Miller and other critics, including Democratic presidential challenger and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, call it a short-sighted step that will save the average motorist less than $30 and put a big dent in the federal highway account.
The idea has little support among Democrats in Congress but never underestimate the power of a symbolic gesture, particularly during a presidential campaign season.
Read on for the press release issued by Miller’s office:
STATEMENT BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS ON
THE PROPOSAL TO SUSPEND THE FEDERAL GAS TAX THIS SUMMER
WASHINGTON, D.C. — 5/6/08 — Members of Congress are being asked to state whether or not they support a temporary suspension of the federal tax on gasoline as a response to soaring gas prices. Below is a statement by 29 members of the House of Representatives unequivocally rejecting the idea. The Democratic lawmakers signing this statement are: Reps. George Miller (CA), Xavier Becerra (CA), Lois Capps (CA), Anna Eshoo (CA), Barbara Lee (CA), Zoe Lofgren (CA), Pete Stark (CA), Mark Udall (CO), Rosa DeLauro (CT), John Larson (CT), Hank Johnson (GA), Neil Abercrombie (HI), David Loebsack (IA), Jan Schakowsky (IL), Michael Capuano (MA), Wm. Lacy Clay (MO), Paul Hodes (NH), Carol Shea-Porter (NH), Melvin Watt (NC), Earl Blumenauer (OR), Peter DeFazio (OR), David WU (OR), Steve Cohen (TN), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX), Lloyd Doggett (TX), Robert Scott (VA), Ron Kind (WI), Gwen Moore (WI), and Nick Rahall (WV).
“The Bush administration’s oil and gas policies have been disastrous for our economy, the environment and hard working Americans. Since January 2001, oil prices have skyrocketed to $120 per barrel – up more than 250%. The increased price at the pump, coupled with the White House’s failure to end America’s addiction to oil, has hurt American families and weakened our economy. Meanwhile, the major oil and gas companies are reporting record profits and America’s dependence on foreign oil has never been higher.
“In response to this serious and long-term policy challenge, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) have proposed suspending the $0.18/gallon federal gas tax for the summer. We are strongly opposed to this short-term and counterproductive response, for several reasons.
“First, their proposal will bankrupt the federal Highway Trust Fund, leading to deep cuts to transit investments and to critical safety and congestion-relief funding. While our constituents would like to pay less at the pump, they don’t want to see the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, worsened rush hour traffic, and increasingly dangerous road conditions.
“Secondly, the fiscal damage to the Highway Trust Fund would not actually lead to a savings for families. Oil companies have no history of passing their own savings on to the consumer and we don’t believe they would do so now. The gas tax has remained stable for fifteen years, yet gas prices have steadily increased: clearly, the $0.18/gallon gas tax has little to do with the unusually high price at the pump. Waiving the federal gas tax will merely add to the already enormous profits of the oil industry while undermining our ability to invest in safer roads, cleaner fuels, and increased public transportation options.
“Third, Congress has begun to chart a new direction in energy policy – reducing demand for oil, improving the efficiency of cars and trucks, increasing our use of alternative fuels and renewable energy sources, and investing in a cleaner transportation infrastructure. These are the steps that we must take to reduce demand for oil, bring down the real cost of gasoline, and benefit consumers and the long-term health of our economy.”