Monday, May 01, 2006

GOP Gas Rebate Plan Panned

I've got a very busy first part of the week what with the impending end of classes for the summer and all, so I may not be able to post very much before Wednesday. But I did want to mention this NYTimes story from Monday's paper, about the vociferous and generally negative reaction to the plan proposed by Senate Republicans to send out $100 "gas rebate" checks.

"Under the proposal, $100 checks would be sent late this summer to an estimated 100 million taxpayers, regardless of car ownership. Single taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes above about $146,000 would be ineligible for the checks, as would couples earning more than about $219,000. The $100 figure was determined by Mr. Frist's office, which calculated that the average driver would pay about $11 per month in federal gas taxes over nine months." That's the plan in a nutshell. It makes no sense. If you're going to spend $10 billion, why the heck not use it on something like research and development for new technology, or funding for raising fuel efficiency, or x, y, or z? Wouldn't that be money much better spent?

Even if they're going to send out rebate checks, I also have a bit of a problem with the whole "regardless of car ownership" thing. I don't own a car. I don't buy gasoline. So why on earth would I get a rebate check? That's just ridiculous. Sure I like getting money back, this is just downright goofy. Either us it for something more productive, or give it to someone who needs it.

As the Times reports, many others feel similarly. A staffer to Sen. Cornyn says they've been getting calls from left, right and center in opposition to the rebate plan: "The conservatives think it is socialist bunk, and the liberals think it is conservative trickery." Rush Limbaugh called it "an insult" (I can't believe I'm quoting Limbaugh, I need to go wash my hands), and Brit Hume used the term "silly."

Throwing money at voters isn't going to lower gas prices. It's also not going to improve the tanking approval ratings of Congress. The American people are smart enough to see through this nonsense, and I hope the Senate opts to do something more useful with that spare $10 billion they've got stashed away (hah!).


At 9:08 AM, Blogger Peter said...

My wife and I are college students, have two cars, and really need the money. Personally, if they are gonna do something along these lines - they should temporarily repeal the Federal gas tax. The 18 cents per gallon at the pump would be helpful and would eliminate the "regardless of car ownership" rule (which is stupid). Anyway, would you mind giving me your $100 check if you get one - with two cars it would be much appreciated.

At 9:14 AM, Blogger JBD said...

Peter - Exactly, in your case it makes much more sense, and I agree that repealing the gas tax would do more to ease the pain at the pump. I would be happy to send along my check if I get one, but my mother and sister have both already called dibs.

At 9:46 AM, Blogger The Cynical Liberal said...

Hey, as long as it looks like the Republicans and the President are doing something, while not actually doing anything productive, like asking the Oil Companies to stop artificially inflating gas prices, then I guess they're all set for the midterms.

At 10:35 AM, Anonymous GHoadley said...

The federal government handing cash to everyone, car owner or not, makes as much sense as New York State handing out cash just before elections, ie. none. Its just payola to voters on a scale not previously seen. Reduce the tax on gas or incrase taxes on obscene oil company profits, but don't confuse $100 handouts with "fixing" the price of gas.

At 4:13 PM, Anonymous Paul Wartenberg said...

I know it's hard to quote from Rush Limbaugh, but he's right: this is essentially a $100 bribe from Congress to get us to not bitch about high gas prices.

And here's the thing, $100 ain't gonna cut it.

Repealing the gas tax isn't a good response either: it's just going to cut another revenue source that the gov't needs. The last thing we ought to do is make the deficits worse.

What the gov't should do is three-fold:
1) Open an investigation into price-fixing and collusion between the oil companies. That scares the crap out of them to where they lower the prices real quick.
2) Order, yes order, the car companies to build and sell more hybrids (in at least 70 percent of all car and truck models), and install other engine upgrades to increase fuel efficiency in current models. It won't solve the immediate crisis but it will help down the road.
3) Alternative fuels. NOW.

At 5:17 PM, Blogger The Cynical Liberal said...

Not that anyone asked, but I agree 150% with Paul.

At 6:26 PM, Blogger Lanky_Bastard said...

Four or five years ago I got a $300 dollar bonus check from the government with Bush's name on it. You bet you butt that bought votes.

Obviously putting $100 cash advance for every taxpayer on our Chinese Credit Card is bad fiscal policy. It's stupid...but that doesn't mean it won't buy votes.


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