Likelihood of Success

Ron Coleman’s pretty good blog

Sen. Barack McGovern

Posted by Ron Coleman on August 1, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Friday announced an “Emergency Economic Plan” that would give families a stimulus check of $1,000 each, funded in part by what his presidential campaign calls “windfall profits from Big Oil.”

Details are in this six-page policy paper.

Sound a little familiar?  We can … hope!  (HT to Jane!)


9 Responses to “Sen. Barack McGovern”

  1. So: Obama releases a substantive plan for how he will help people. McCain releases… an Attack on Obama. It seems like it should be pretty easy to chose between these guys.

  2. jan said

    The government makes more off a gallon of gas in taxes than the oil companies make in profits, so why should it come from the oil companies at all? Just cut the gas tax and benefit everybody. But oh, I forgot, we’re supposed to be punishing the oil companies for congress’ failure to pass a sensible energy policy. Sorry, my mistake…

  3. craig mclaughlin said

    “It seems like it should be pretty easy to chose between these guys.”

    It is.

  4. jan said

    Or in other (better) words, to quote Don Boudreaux:
    “… a critical part of Sen. Obama’s strategy for reigning in high gasoline prices is to subsidize gasoline consumption and more heavily tax its production. This plan – which increases the demand for gasoline and reduces its supply – makes as much sense as trying to put out a fire by dowsing it with jet fuel.”

  5. Ara Rubyan said

    The government makes more off a gallon of gas in taxes than the oil companies make in profits, so why should it come from the oil companies at all? Just cut the gas tax and benefit everybody.

    Right! I say cut taxes — all of them — to zero.

    Then we just borrow 100% of everything we need to pay for roads and bridges and defense and what not.

    There. Everyone’s happy.

  6. jan said

    When did I say cut all taxes? Anyway, taxes aside, BHO still wants to subsidize consumption, which is the wrong incentive if you’re concerned with using too much oil and creating pollution. Can’t have it both ways.

  7. Ara Rubyan said

    When did I say cut all taxes?

    Oh, please: “Just cut the gas tax and benefit everybody.” I was born at night, Jan, but I wasn’t born last night.

    Besides, who benefits when you cut the gas tax? Prices won’t go down and roads and bridges won’t get rebuilt. And consumption will be unaffected. It’s a lose-lose-lose situation.

    Clearly, Obama’s rebate checks are a short-term emergency fix but at least you’re doing something on the demand side instead of the supply side (which, as history shows, doesn’t work anyway).

  8. jan said

    Ah, pardon me for not speaking clearly. I meant “cut” as in reduce, not “cut” to mean eliminate. Still, reducing gas prices right now would have a more immediate impact on the budgets of struggling families, than some hypothetical stimulus money that they might receive months from now. Since part of his stimulus package is a big infusion of cash in the Highway Trust Fund, the “no more roads and bridges” argument is a non-starter. (Per the linked article, he proposes a $50 billion economic stimulus, half to states, half to the highway fund, in addition to the $1000 per family stimulus.)

    I do take your point about who a gas tax reduction would help, as clearly we better off individuals would benefit as well (not a bad thing in and of itself, but I’ll be happy to pay my share without quibbling). In which case, maybe a better way to go would be for the government to hand out gas cards. If you make less than a certain amount, or are on food stamps (or choose whatever other low-income metric you want), then you get a card for X dollars worth of gas effective immediately, to be renewed as necessary. If you didn’t want the program to be too open ended and liable to be abused, you could put a time limit on the program, or a cut-off when gas prices fall below a certain limit. This way the effect on a struggling family’s budget is both immediate and specific. Obama did say that part of his goal was “to help struggling families make ends meet,” in which case help now is better than help later. And since there’s no mention of means testing for his $1000, then I assume the middle and upper classes will benefit from it just as much as they would from a reduction in the gas tax.

    The portion of Obama’s plan in regard to using an infrastructure growth and renewal initiative as a means to create jobs and stimulate the economy is not a bad idea at all. Goodness knows that the infrastructure in this country has been neglected for 20 years or more and desperately needs it. But his “struggling families” plan needs a little work I think.

  9. Ara Rubyan said

    Generally, I like your thinking on this. Let’s stipulate that the timing of Obama’s proposal (and McCain’s as well) is chiefly linked to the campaign calendar, of course, and not to the calendar of middle-class families. Congress has adjourned until after Labor Day, after all.

    As for infrastructure, what’s about to happen in that sector is a real shame. Roads and bridges all over the country are reaching the end of their useful lives at 40 years and counting. We need to rebuild that infrastructure as well as look to future, e.g., upgrading our electrical grid to accommodate alternative energy distribution such as wind and solar.

    There are plenty of jobs to be had — if we make a concerted national effort to push together in the right direction. Once those jobs materialize, there will be plenty of tax revenue to be had, which will go a long way to solve the funding issues for future entitlement payments, e.g., Social Security, Medicare and universal health care.

    Rising tides. Boats. Etc. THAT’S how you grow an economy — not through tax cuts for oil companies.

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