Obama postpones U.S. gas tax holiday, but Biden now wants one

US President Joe Biden speaks with former President Barack Obama during an event on the Affordable Care Act, the former president’s top legislation, in the East Room at the White House in Washington, USA, April 5, 2022.

Leah Millis | Reuters

Former President Barack Obama called the replacement of a federal gas tax holiday “one of our proud moments” during his 2008 campaign – but his vice president, Joe Biden, thinks this kind of holiday is much needed now that he has the lead in the White House.

President Biden’s desire for a three-month proposal for federal and gasoline tax customers comes as the U.S. sees rising fuel prices, and the Democratic journalist sees less than four months away from mid-term election falling public approval.

Whether Congress is going for Biden’s pitch, and whether he sees positive reactions from voters to it, remains to be seen.

But his former boss Obama, in his best-selling memoir “A Promised Land” of 2020, argued the political benefits of shifting short-term financial relief to U.S. drivers on the grounds that it would lead to long-term financial damage.

In fact, Obama noted that his lock on the Democratic presidential nomination came on the heels of that decision in the spring of 2008.

Currently, Obama is embroiled in a primary battle with former New York Senator Hillary Clinton, and because he came under fire as a result of controversial sermons by his pastor, Jeremiah Wright.

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“Then we got some help from an unexpected neighborhood,” Obama wrote.

“Gas prices were skyrocketing,” and “nothing got voters in a bad mood like high gas prices,” he wrote.

The final Republican presidential candidate that year, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, proposed a temporary lifting of the federal gas tax – just as Biden does now – and “Hillary investigated the idea immediately,” Obama wrote.

When Obama’s campaign team asked him what he wanted to say about the issue, “I told them I was against it,” he wrote.

“While it had some superficial appeal, I knew it would drain an already depleted federal highway fund, leading to fewer infrastructure projects and jobs,” Obama wrote.

“Based on my experience as a senator from the state of Illinois, where I once voted for a similar proposal, I was sure consumers would not see much benefit. In fact, gas station owners were just as likely to keep gas prices high and increase their own profits as they pass on the savings of three cents per gallon to motorists. “

Obama wrote that “something to my surprise,” his top campaign advisers agreed with him. And the next day, outside a gas station, he made his report to reporters for his position, calling it a “serious long-term energy policy” that contrasted “with the typical Washington solution proposed by both McCain and Hillary,” he wrote. hy. .

Obama then wrote that he would “double” his argument after McCain and Clinton both tried to dismiss him as unconcerned about the finances of working families, “shooting a TV ad on the issue and running it nonstop in Indiana and North Carolina. . “

“The easiest thing in the world for a politician to do is to tell you exactly what you want to hear,” Obama said at the time, calling the gas tax holiday a “gimmick.”

“It was one of those proud moments, to take a difficult position without taking advantage of polls and in the face of pounds that we thought we were crazy about,” Obama wrote in his memoirs.

“We began to see signs in the poll data that voters bought our argument,” he wrote.

Shortly thereafter, Obama defeated Clinton in the North Carolina by-election by 14 percentage points, and, “surprisingly, we had drawn an effective tie in Indiana, losing by only a few thousand votes,” Obama wrote.

While there would be half a dozen more pre-elections for the official end of the Democratic race, “The results that night told us that the race was basically over,” he wrote.

“I would be the Democratic candidate for President of the United States,” he wrote.

More recently, another top Democrat, California House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has repeatedly criticized the idea of ​​a federal gas tax holiday.

In April, Pelosi called the holiday idea “good PR”, but added: “There is no guarantee that the savings, the reduction of the federal tax, that would be passed on to the consumer.”

A month earlier, Pelosi called the idea “very showbiz.”

Biden, who will speak Wednesday afternoon about his proposal for a federal gas tax holiday, will ask states to suspend their own gas taxes.

There is currently a federal tax of 18.4 cents per gallon on gasoline, and a federal tax of 24.4 cents per gallon on diesel fuel.


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