While there’s talk of suspending the federal gas tax for a time to give drivers a break, Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says the idea won’t get out of the garage. Harkin says Congress will not take it up. "If you could assure me that we could put money in the pockets of our consumers, I would be for it," Harkin says, "but no one can assure me of that, or assure anyone of that."
Harkin, a Democrat, says there’d be no control over the price of gas if the federal tax was suspended. Harkin says it would not cut the price of gas by 18 cents, it would cut the tax by 18 cents, and he says there’s nothing to keep the oil companies from lowering gas by five cents and pocketing the rest of the money. Harkin says suspending the tax could have a long-term impact.
Harkin says the tax money goes to help repair roads and bridges, and he says one estimate says the loss of the tax could cost some 330-thousand jobs. A windfall profit tax on the oil companies is another idea that’s talked about, but Harkin says that won’t give any immediate help.
"I’m all for that," Harkin says, "but you can’t get that money in that soon..that might come next year or the year after, but it won’t come right now to keep people employed, to keep our roads in repair and our bridges in repair, that type of thing." Harkin says the best short-term solution for high gas prices might be tapping into the federal oil reserve.
Harkin says that might be something Congress might look at for short term help, as he says that would do more than suspending the gas tax. Among the presidential candidates, Senator John McCain, a Republican and Senator Hilliary Clinton, a Democrat, support a gas tax holiday, but Democrat Senator Barrack Obama is against the idea.