Watch CBSN Live

Editorial: Gas Tax Holiday Offers Little Long-term Relief

This story was written by Staff Editorial, Michigan Daily
Drivers across the country may be pumped at the prospect of actually seeing the price of gas fall for the first time in months, a miracle that may happen if gas tax breaks proposed by some politicians actually come to fruition. While these breaks may ease the immediate strain on driver's wallets, Americans - especially Michiganders - should question the motives of those who propose these breaks.

Summer tax breaks need to be seen for what they really are: short-term sucking up in an election year. Gas tax breaks offer little long-term relief to the fuel crisis and endanger an already-precarious economy.

Last month, presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and John McCain both proposed plans that would relieve voters of paying the national per-gallon tax of 18.4 cents. Following suit, a group of Republicans in Michigan's House of Representatives have been working this month to create a similar plan to temporarily eliminate the state's 19-cent tax at the pumps.

Accusations that Clinton and McCain are lobbying for this break as a means of grabbing more votes have been widespread - and well deserved. It's not a coincidence either that state representatives, who are up for election every two years, picked this year to support a similar measure.

If decidedly sketchy motives aren't reason enough to question such tax breaks, the short-sighted economics involved should be. Supply and demand economics shows us that making it cheaper to purchase oil, which is already in short supply, will only push the price further up in the future. So while this summer might be a blissful vacation, tax-adjusted prices after the November election could be a brutal wake-up call.

Making gas more affordable diminishes the only advantages coming from roughly $4-per-gallon gas prices: Interest in alternative automotive technology has flourished. Faced with soaring prices, the public has been forced to make real efforts to reduce consumption through things like carpooling and choosing more fuel-efficient vehicles, practices which are initial pragmatic measures in a move toward long-term sustainability.

It's also crucial to question where this tax money goes and what will be lost by cutting it. In Michigan, for instance, Democrats have argued that losing this revenue could result in losses and layoffs for public schools. Trolling for votes shouldn't be seen as reason enough for repealing these taxes, which provide crucial funding to important programs.

Saving a few pennies at the pump might be nice, but in the end, the hidden costs and likely long-term impotence of such programs make it evident that this solution is running on empty.