A pander too far?

Everyone hates the McClinton proposal, and some mainstream outlets are abandoning “he said/she said” to report that the gas tax holiday is a policy loser.

Rage over the McClinton gas tax holiday proposal seems to be rising, not only in Wonkistan but in the mainstream media. Chiming in so far: Matt Yglesias, James Fallows, Angry Bear, Robert Reich, Steve Benen, Jonathan Alter, Tom Friedman (!), Greg Mankiw (!!!)

Even Good Morning America seems to find the proposal a pander too far, going to the extreme length of actually explaining one reason why it’s a bad idea.

What’s especially delicious is that no one not on the McClinton payroll is actually defending the idea. (Justin Wolfers of the NYT Freakonomics blog asks whether any actual economist &#821 left-wing, right-wing, or two-handed &#8212 supports it; so far the answer is no. Paul Krugman says (falsely) that the Clinton version is “pointless rather than evil.” But that’s about the warmest praise the idea is getting. Sam Stein at HuffPo looked hard, and couldn’t find any non-campaign support for the idea; he asked Howard Wolfson to point him to an expert who liked the plan and Wolfson never responded. Even my pet Clinton troll, who wrote me in a towering rage about a post that missed the nuance of difference between the Clinton knock-off and the McCain original, isn’t willing to defend the soundness of the proposal or Clinton’s sincerity in offering it.

Is it possible &#8212 just barely possible &#8212 that McClinton has finally manged to underestimate the intelligence of the American voter and overestimate the gulliblity of the political news media?

Footnote Taylor Marsh, always good for comic relief, admits that the Clinton proposal is “silly” but is delighted that she’s pushing it because it shows that she feels the voters’ pain, unlike that elitist Obama who “doesn’t get it.”

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com