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Issue of the Week: Gas Tax Pandering

May. 7, 2008
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In the short term, the summertime gas tax holiday advocated by Republican John McCain and Democrat Hillary Clinton could save consumers a little money. But it could also have huge consequences for the safety of our roads, as the money from the gas tax helps pay for the infrastructure of our roadways. And it’ll provide no incentive for big oil companies to lower their prices on gas or to produce more for the summer driving season—or encourage drivers to cut down on their gas consumption. But the idea seems to poll well in Indiana, and conservatives who support McCain/Clinton are falling for it—and isn’t that the only thing candidates care about these days?

Clinton is trying to seem like a populist by calling for a windfall tax on the wild profits made by the big oil companies. But she’s forgetting to mention that she’s already called for the same windfall tax to be allocated to green technologies. So where’s the savings?

Although it may seem like an eat-your-vegetables kind of position, candidate Barack Obama is rejecting what he calls the “gimmick” of a gas tax holiday because it would put the nation’s infrastructure in jeopardy. He’s calling for a windfall tax on oil companies, with the proceeds going to lower-income families as a tax break. It may not be a good sound bite, but it’s a better option in the long term.

Blog of the Week:

Folkbum’s Rambles and Rants folkbum.blogspot.com

Selective Outrage on Display. As Usual.

The latest is the news that comedian Bill Maher will be in town, sponsored in part by WKLH radio and American TV. Because Maher dislikes religion—he’s got animosity for all religions, in equal measure, as it turns out, not mere “anti-Christian bigotry”—some righties are leading a charge against the sponsors. […]

John McAdams, the Marquette [political science] professor (chair of the Department of Outrage, I believe) who is leading the Maher reaction, has a whole category of posts tagged with “free speech” (a tag missing from his Maher posts!) that include things like praise for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for bringing noted anti-Muslim speakers Walid Shoebat and David Horowitz to campus (flashback: David Horowitz hates me!). The bigoted (by the Maher standard) messages of Shoebat and Horowitz are sponsored at UWM by your tax dollars and mine, which to me suggests that they might be afforded greater scrutiny than those sponsored by the commercial enterprises like American TV. […]

Yet the anti-Muslim speakers get a pass and the anti-Muslim sponsors get kudos because the targeted religion is not McAdams’ Catholicism, but Islam.

(To read more local blogs, go to blognetwork.expressmilwaukee.com.)


“My friends, I will have an energy policy that we will be talking about, which will eliminate our dependence on oil from the Middle East that will prevent us from having ever to send our young men and women into conflict again in the Middle East.” —presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain, seeming to concede last week that the Bush administration invaded Iraq for its oil.

Jerk of the Week:
James Haney, president, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC)

The governor and the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are trying to cut mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants by 90%, which will benefit our health—especially the health of pregnant women and kids—as well as our environment and economy.

The plan is estimated to save more than $200 million in health care costs and will preserve Wisconsin’s image as a pristine tourist destination. But the WMC, led by James Haney, is trying to block the new mercury rule on a technicality. Does the WMC really want to continue exposing Wisconsinites to mercury so that coal-fired power plant owners can save a few bucks and shirk their responsibility to their neighbors?

Bike to Work Week

Save gas and burn calories by biking to work next week. There are a slew of special events—including free coffee and bakery—from Monday, May 12, through Friday, May 16, all over the city. For more information, go to the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin’s Web site at www.bfw.org.

Hero of the Week:
Voces de la Frontera

Immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera and its leader, Christine Neumann-Ortiz, organized yet another highly successful May 1 rally on the streets of Milwaukee. About 30,000 immigrants and their allies are pushing the presidential candidates to implement a sane, humane immigration policy within the first 100 days of the new administration. They also want the federal government to end raids on workplaces and homes.

Photo: "Sunset over Industrial Milwaukee"
Contributed by Leah Jepson. "I took this photo out of the sunroof of my car while going across the High Rise Bridge."

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