Congressmen Don't See Gas-Tax Holiday as Real Solution

By Keriann Hopkins and Michael Gryboski | July 7, 2008 | 8:24 PM EDT

On the Spot ( - With prices at the pump surpassing $4 a gallon, much attention has been focused on solutions. One proposal is a federal gas-tax holiday, an idea for which Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) expressed differing degrees of support for during their presidential primary campaigns.

The proposal involves suspending the 18.4-cent federal gas tax and the 24.4-cent federal diesel tax during the summer, basically from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Cybercast News Service went to Capitol Hill to ask members of the House of Representatives how they felt about the proposal.

At best, they told us, the proposal is a temporary patch -- and the U.S. needs to look for more long-term solutions, such as alternative energy sources and expanded domestic production of oil.

Rep. John Carter (R-Texas), who agreed that gas prices are "too high," said he does not support a gas-tax holiday.

"Since gas went up in the last month 30 cents, 18 cents is not going to be felt very much by the people," Carter told Cybercast News Service.

"The real issue is domestic production," he added. "With domestic production, the speculators will see we're serious, and the price will go down."

Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) agreed that the gas-tax holiday is too ineffective to be the long-term solution, but it might be a good opportunity for short-term relief.

"I'd vote for it if it comes up because the taxes on fuel are far more than the profit that any oil company makes on fuel. But the bottom line is it's a Band-Aid approach," he told Cybercast News Service.

Franks, who owned an oil-drilling company before entering Congress, told that he is "incredibly familiar" with the complex problems surrounding America's energy issue.

"The bottom line here in the simplest possible terms is that we have an overwhelming dependence on foreign oil because we have not drilled and exploited our own resources effectively," Franks said.

Franks sees a more long-term solution as necessary and inevitable.

"What we need in this country is to explore new alternative energy sources and to do what is necessary to drill for and explore our own energy, whether it's outer continental shelf, deep sea exploration or ANWR," he said. "These are things we can do that won't hurt the country at all environmentally, to any extent whatsoever."

"It's just astonishing to me that we can't see that," he added.

Franks blamed the high prices on the Democrats, pointing to their voting record against drilling domestically.

"For the last 20 years, Democrats have kept us from doing that, and now, reality has come upon us," Franks said.

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), meanwhile, agreed that the gas-tax holiday would only grant temporary relief, pointing to criticism made in April by Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), the Democratic presidential candidate.

"I think that's a proposal that ought to be given serious consideration, although it's been pointed out that it would only scratch the surface in terms of giving any relief," he told Cybercast News Service.

"I look at it in a little more favorable light because any relief is good, but understanding that it really doesn't do what we need it to do," he added.

Engel, too, looked for a more long-term solution.

"The real thing long term is to wean us off of oil," he said.

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