Economists Release Letter Opposing Gas Tax Holiday
Washington Post
By Jonathan Weisman
May 5, 2008

Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday she'll have no truck with economists telling her where to put her gas-tax holiday.

Well, now she's got a truckload of them.

More than 230 economists -- Democrats, Republicans, advisers to past presidents and four Nobel laureates -- signed a letter today opposing proposals by Clinton and presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain to suspend the 18-cent federal gas tax for the summer driving season.

"First, research shows that waiving the gas tax would generate major profits for oil companies rather than significantly lowering prices for consumers," they wrote. "Second, it would encourage people to keep buying costly imported oil and do nothing to encourage conservation. Third, a tax holiday would provide very little relief to families feeling squeezed."

Signatories include four Nobel laureates: Joseph Stiglitz (a Clinton White House adviser), James Heckman, Daniel Kahneman and Roger Myerson. Also signing were: President-elect of the American Economic Association Angus Deaton; former AEA presidents Charles Schultze, Alice Rivlin and Peter Diamond; former Reagan administration economist Clyde Prestowitz and former Clinton economic adviser Jeffrey Frankel. Indeed, former president Bill Clinton's administration is well represented on the list, with the signatures of Jeffrey Liebman of Harvard University, Rebecca Blank of the University of Michigan and J. Bradford DeLong of the University of California at Berkeley.

Others are household names within the smaller household of the economics profession: John Shoven and Lawrence Goulder from Stanford, Alan Auerbach from Berkeley, David Cutler from Harvard, James Galbraith from the University of Texas and Frank Levy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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