Despite accusations of political pandering from rival Barack Obama and brickbats from economists, Hillary Clinton is sticking to her guns on a summer gas tax holiday.
She is proposing suspending the federal tax of 18.4 cents a gallon, and imposing a windfall profits tax on oil companies to replace that revenue that goes to the fund that pays for road and bridge repairs. Neither is likely to get through Congress, but Clinton is highlighting the issue in TV ads and speeches in the final days before Tuesday's primaries in Indiana and North Carolina.
UPDATE: Tonight, Clinton hit back with a new TV ad in Indiana of her own, criticizing Obama's ad saying the gas tax holiday would save "only pennies" a day and promoting her longer-term plans for cutting gas prices.
"Relief for today, bold solutions for tomorrow," the announcer says in the ad.
"We have a choice. We can choose to have you continue to pay the federal gas tax this summer or we can choose to try to make the oil companies pay it out of their record profits," she told voters today in Hendersonville, N.C. "This is the kind of choice that I believe we should be trying to make, because I know where I stand and I know where my opponents stand."
"Senator Obama doesn’t want us to take down the gas tax this summer and Senator McCain wants us to, but he doesn’t want to pay for it," Clinton continued. "I believe we should impose an excess profits tax on the oil companies. They have record profits that they frankly are just sitting there counting because they are not doing anything new to earn it; they are just taking advantage of what is going on. We ought to say: Wait a minute, we’d rather have the oil companies pay the gas tax than the drivers of North Carolina, especially the truck drivers, or the farmers, or other people who have to commute long distances."
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.