Hillary Clinton and Paul Ryan on the same side of an issue? Who would've thunk it!
All this time we thought our home-grown Congressman, R-WI, 1st District, was angling for a VP nod from the Republican heir presumptive, John McCain ... but now it turns out he was really hoping to be on Hillary's ticket?
Just kidding. Still, it is surprising to find Ryan and Clinton in agreement -- even if it's something as ultimately inconsequential and wrong-headed as a summer federal gas tax holiday. Something, we need to point out that John McCain favors as well.
Don't these politicians realize that with the price of gas approaching $4 a gallon -- we spotted the $3.99 sign above just yesterday on Durand at the Citgo station (yes, Citgo is a subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil company, and gas in Venezuela is selling for 12 cents a gallon, last we checked) -- a "vacation" from the federal 18.4-cent gas tax won't make any substantive difference? The damage from your 20-gallon fill-up would drop from $80 to $76.40; big whoop. Two years ago, that fill-up cost about $40.
Still, Ryan is for it. Today he introduced legislation that would impose a one-year moratorium on earmarks (he really, really hates earmarks, in case anyone hadn't noticed) and "with the savings from this break in pork-barrel spending Congress would provide some relief at the pump this summer and make much needed investments in our nation's infrastructure," Ryan said. (Never mind that one Congressman's "much needed investments in infrastructure" are another's ... um, earmark and pork.)
Whatever. Ryan unveiled “The Gas Tax Relief and Earmark Moratorium Act of 2008” at a joint hearing before the House Budget Committee and House Transportation Committee, which focused on financing infrastructure investments.
The press release from Ryan's office notes:
"Ryan’s proposal would suspend the Federal 18.4-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax for the high-demand summer months. Today’s announcement coincides with news that the price of a gallon of gas in Southern Wisconsin has set new record highs, averaging roughly $3.80 per gallon in some areas. With the revenues saved from the earmark moratorium, his bill would replenish the Highway Trust Fund, a critical source of funding aimed to strengthen our nation’s infrastructure. The Gas Tax Relief and Earmark Moratorium Act would go a step further by shoring up the fund’s projected shortfall for the coming fiscal year.
"Ryan’s earmark moratorium adheres to the reform efforts of Representatives Jack Kingston and Frank Wolf. The Kingston-Wolf proposal would conduct a full study of the broken practice of earmarking, bring greater transparency to these spending projects, and bar any new earmarks until the system is fixed. Ryan’s one-year earmark moratorium would provide an estimated $14.8 billion of additional revenue, more than enough to provide Americans relief at the pump and replenish the Highway Trust Fund so that road repairs can continue. Additional earmark savings would be dedicated to reducing the deficit. Challenging his colleagues again on the scourge of pork-barrel spending, Congressman Ryan issued the following statement:
"The decisions made by Congress on taxes and spending impact the paychecks of working men and women. By clinging to this broken earmark practice, Congress is picking pork over paychecks, and pork over potholes. Simply saying no to earmarks for the remainder of the year could give folks in Wisconsin some relief at the pump this summer and fix the Highway Trust Fund’s deficit. I am hopeful that Congress will give up its addiction to pork and address the concerns of the American people,” Ryan said.
(My prediction, in case you hadn't already guessed: Sanjaya has a better chance of becoming the next American Idol and marrying Paula Abdul than this legislation has of passing.)