Clinton ‘Not Going To Put My Lot In With Economists’ on Gas Tax

By Lindsey Ellerson

May 4, 2008 12:36pm

ABC News’ Mary Bruce reports: Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.,  declined this morning to name a single economist who backs her call for a gas tax suspension.

"I’m not going to put my lot in with economists," Clinton said in an exclusive appearance on a special edition of "This Week" from Indianapolis.

In light of fierce criticism from economic experts, Clinton said, "We’ve been, for the last seven years, seeing a tremendous amount of government power and elite opinion basically behind policies that haven’t worked well for the middle class and hard-working Americans. … I know if we get it right, if we actually did it right, if we had a president who used all the tools of the presidency, we would design it in such a way that it would be implemented effectively."

The Democratic candidate also responded to claims that her proposal is not a "truthful response" to the soaring prices at the pump.

"This gas tax issue to me is very real, because I am meeting people across Indiana and North Carolina who drive for a living, who commute long distances, who would save money if the oil companies paid this $8 billion this summer, instead of it coming out of the pockets of consumers," Clinton said. "Now, look, I have long-term plans too.  I mean, it’s a misnomer to say this is all that I’m doing.  It’s not.  I have a comprehensive long-term energy plan that would go right at dependence on foreign oil."

Clinton also differentiated her plan from that of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the likely Republican presidential nominee, who has also called for summer gas tax holiday.

"My proposal is very different from Sen. McCain," she said. "Sen. McCain has said take off the gas tax, don’t pay for it, throw us further into deficit and debt.  That is not what I’ve proposed.  What I’ve proposed is that the oil companies pay the gas tax instead of consumers and drivers this summer."

Clinton has proposed using a windfall profits tax on oil companies to pay for the gas tax holiday. However, she also previously pledged to use windfall profits to create a strategic energy fund for renewable and alternative energies.

But when "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos asked if she had already spent the windfall profits tax, she said, "No … the tax subsidies will go right into that [strategic energy fund].  I’m talking about something temporary this summer.  My longer-term plan is, yes, to put an excess profits tax on the oil companies above a certain level of profit that would go in to help us make the transition."

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