This is being written before North Carolina’s Tuesday primary and will be published a week later. The outcome of our state’s presidential primary will, for the first time in a very long time, matter. It is indeed refreshing to live in a state where our votes can affect the process of determining who will be the leader of the free world. It would be further refreshing if we as an electorate could be regarded as an astute and highly analytical group whose support could only be won by cogent argument and carefully developed thesis. By Wednesday morning there will be great joy in someone’s camp. I hope it will be in Senator Obama’s. He has been honest in his statements and respectful of those whose attention he draws.
    Alas however, it is politics as it has always been in at least one camp. One of the most egregious examples of the “tell them anything and they will buy it” school of political stumping is Hillary Clinton’s spoonful of sugar federal gasoline-tax holiday scheme. The idea is founded most undoubtedly on the proposition that American taxpayers are hopelessly stupid, particularly those of us living in North Carolina and Indiana.{mosimage}
    Take a deep breath and consider the plan. The federal government temporarily removes the highway fund tax of 18.4 cents per gallon of gasoline. Whew. Now we are back to $3.39 per gallon. Pack up the SUV and off to Yellowstone. Driving is affordable again.  Bless you Mrs. Clinton and may your tribe always occupy the White House as it has already for eight years. Now for a reality check. The average family car (and we are dealing with averages here not exceptions) is driven about 12,000 miles per year and manages about 20 miles per gallon. That works out to be 50 gallons per month or a savings ... ta da of $9.20 per family per month. Wow. So for three months the price of a fast food combo, maybe three packs of cigarettes, a movie ticket or a six pack of brewskis is going to make life worth living again for the American public.
    I guess the worrisome aspect of this plan to lure votes is that Mrs. Clinton and her managers believe that we, the voters, are just too dumb to see through it. This is a latter day version of Marie Antoinette’s “let them eat cake” suggestion. Of course, she paid for that ill-advised comment with a severed head. Mrs. Clinton goes on. The gasoline tax not collected would then be replaced by nicking the oil company’s profits to restore the estimated $9 billion lost from the highway trust fund. Not so bad, but doesn’t that require an act of Congress? Doesn’t she know that, what with her experience and everything? It gets worse. She also wants to spend the money not collected to research bio-fuels. This may be a shell game, I am not sure, but do count how many times Mrs. Clinton is shuffling this same bedraggled $9 billion.
    So we get the connection. Collect $9 less in taxes from each American family per month for three months, give it the old Washington money hide-and-seek and presto it is new money from taxes not collected for more research on a terrible idea. You read that correctly. That is what she has said and what she is saying, more money to study how to convert cropland to fuel land. Ethanol from corn and biodiesel from beans are ideas that are creating serious consequences on the world food supply. Mrs. Clinton wants to do more cropland conversion. With her vast experience and compassion she should be less enthusiastic about subsidies for ethanol producers and more for families paying 25 percent more for food in just one year because of the ethanol craze. 

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