"This isn't an idea designed to get you through the summer, it's designed to get them through an election."
**Prepared remarks provided below**
Winston-Salem, NC - Speaking in Winston-Salem today, Senator Barack Obama said that the federal gas tax holiday proposed by his opponents is a gimmick that stands in stark relief to the substantive proposals he's made to bring relief to hardworking Americans. Senator Obama is the only candidate with a plan to provide broad-based tax relief to the middle class, offering a credit of $1,000 per family or $500 per individual every year, and eliminating income taxes entirely for seniors making less than $50,000. Experts estimate that the proposed gas tax holiday would save consumers only about $28 in total-roughly the cost of half a tank of gas.
"And if my opponents are really interested in genuine relief for Americans who need help paying for gas, or college, or health care, they would support the middle-class tax cut I proposed," Senator Obama said. "That's what working families need right now — not more of the same Washington gimmicks that are out of touch with the struggles of working Americans, but real change that will make a real difference in their lives. But what we're talking about now is a Washington con game, and I think the American people are smarter than Washington and will see right through it."
Senator Clinton's repeated attacks on Barack Obama for voting for the 2005 energy bill ring false. Clinton doesn't tell voters that Indiana Senators Evan Bayh and Dick Lugar supported the bill as being in the best interests of the state, and while she knows that Barack Obama has fought to end perks for the oil and gas companies, she herself voted a year earlier for a package that gave three times as many tax breaks to oil companies as the bill she's now criticizing. That's the kind of politics that the American people are rejecting.
Senator Obama's full remarks on the gas tax holiday follow as prepared for delivery.
Remarks of Senator Barack Obama
Tuesday, April 29th, 2008
One of the things folks are struggling most with in this economy is the price of gas. Right here in North Carolina, a gallon of gas has never cost more than it does right now. So at the same time you're trying to figure out how to pay your insurance premiums, and your kids' tuition, and your mortgage, you're also wondering how it is you'll pay seventy, or eighty, or one hundred dollars to fill up your tank once a week. I actually met a man the other week who lost his job, but couldn't afford to drive around and look for a new one because the price of gas is so high.
Back in September, I was the first candidate — and still the only candidate — to propose a genuine, middle-class tax cut that will provide $1,000 of relief to working families, and eliminate income taxes for seniors making under $50,000, and give struggling homeowners a tax credit. I think it's time we stopped giving tax breaks to CEOs and corporations who don't need them and didn't ask for them, and start giving relief to working families who need it.
Now, the two Washington candidates in the race have been attacking me lately because I don't support their idea of a gas tax holiday. This is an idea that, when all is said and done, will save you — at most — half a tank of gas over the course of the entire summer. That's about $28. It's an idea that some economists think might actually raise gas prices. And without a plan to pay for it right away, it means that the money would come directly out of the fund we use to pay for construction projects, which could cost the state of North Carolina up to 7,000 jobs.
This is the problem with Washington. We are facing a situation where oil prices could hit $200 a barrel. Oil companies like Shell and BP just reported record profits for the quarter. And we're arguing over a gimmick that would save you half a tank of gas over the course of the entire summer so that everyone in Washington can pat themselves on the back and say that they did something.
Well let me tell you — this isn't an idea designed to get you through the summer, it's designed to get them through an election. The easiest thing in the world for a politician to do is to tell you exactly what you want to hear. But if we want to finally solve the challenges we're facing right now, we need to tell the American people what they need to hear. We need to tell the truth.
When I called for higher fuel mileage standards, I didn't do it in front of some environmental group, I went to Detroit and told a group of automakers. I voted for an energy bill that wasn't perfect because it made the largest investment in renewable energy in history. Now, Senator Clinton spends a lot of time attacking me for this bill because it also included some tax breaks for oil companies. Well not only did I fight to take these tax breaks away, but what Senator Clinton doesn't tell you is that she voted for a bill just a year earlier that contained three times as many tax breaks for oil companies. Three times! So this is just politics.
But here's the real difference for you to consider. We are both in favor of taxing the windfall profits tax of oil companies. They are making billions and it's time we made them give back. But Senator Clinton wants to spend the money on this Washington gimmick that will save you $28 all summer. I want to invest that money in clean, affordable, renewable sources of energy like wind power, and solar power, and biofuels, so that we're not here talking about high gas prices next summer, and the summer after that, and five summers after that. That's the change we need.
And if my opponents are really interested in genuine relief for Americans who need help paying for gas, or college, or health care, they would support the middle-class tax cut I proposed. That's what working families need right now — not more of the same Washington gimmicks that are out of touch with the struggles of working Americans, but real change that will make a real difference in their lives. But what we're talking about now is a Washington con game, and I think the American people are smarter than Washington and will see right through it.