During the 2008 presidential campaign, then-candidate Barack Obama dismissed the effectiveness of stimulus checks and so-called gas tax holidays as little more than a “gimmick.” To be more specific, he said they weren’t effective at achieving the stated intent of providing consumers relief from high gas prices.
Nevertheless, this is the policy that President Biden on Wednesday has called on Congress to support. And it comes, of course, in the face of soaring prices at the pump as well as record-high inflation.
Stimulus Checks And Gas Tax Holidays
Biden reportedly wants an act from Congress that suspends federal gasoline and diesel taxes for three months.
The former amounts to 18.4 cents per gallon, and 24.4 cents per gallon for the latter. With gas prices now averaging about $5 a gallon around the country, this would save consumers a reported 3.6 percent at the pump every time they fill up. And that should partly help illustrate why even Obama has downplayed this policy suggestion in the past.
Let’s say it costs you $100 to fill up your tank. A savings of 3.6 percent would amount to a grand total of … $3.60. Meanwhile, there’s also nothing to stop oil companies from responding to the tax holiday by raising their prices.
No wonder during 2008, Obama panned this same idea thus. “We’re arguing over a gimmick to save you half a tank of gas over the course of the entire summer so that everyone in Washington can pat themselves on the back and say that they did something.”
In reality, the Biden administration has had a bit of a ham-fisted messaging strategy when it comes to talking about gas tax prices and the economy for months now. Even before settling on the idea of a gas tax holiday, for example, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg came off as flippant when he suggested that consumers simply buy an electric vehicle as one way around the rising prices.