Ryan Avent outlines more reasons why John McCain's "gas tax holiday" is a terrible idea. It's foremost a strong indicator, as I've argued before, that John McCain isn't serious about climate and energy policy. But despite being pretty much the only bone he threw to the working class, it also doesn't help consumers much at all, since gas prices are up 25 percent on average across the country, and rising, and the federal gas tax is a mere $0.18 cents a gallon.
The real failure of McCain's policy is that it fails to offer any alternatives for consumers, and without those, Americans will remain wed to ever-more-expensive gasoline. Avent offers up mass transit expansion and congestion pricing as two means of helping wean people off gasoline. I'd offer another. McCain has said he is opposed to creating subsidies and tax incentives to develop the green economy.
He does, however, support massive subsidies for the nuclear industry, which he included in his climate legislation and has advocated for adding to the Lieberman-Warner bill. Nuclear is the sum total of his renewable energy plan, as far as I can tell, and that wouldn't do anything to wean us off gasoline. Rather than cutting the gas tax as a short term (and insignificant) solution to economic woes, we should be investing those taxes in real, long-term solutions to the country's energy problems, but there's little indication that McCain, despite the green mythology surrounding him, has the foresight to commit to that.