The debate over a gas tax holiday has caught the attention of all three presidential candidates as well as the media. Last night, CBS "Evening News" said 150 economists had signed a petition against the cut and quoted one saying "it isn't sound economic policy."
But that list includes several prominent liberal economists, some who have also opposed the Bush tax cuts and pushed for a higher minimum wage in other petitions. The list featured economists from liberal groups such at the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, as well as several former Clinton staffers.
Reporter Priya David didn't mention any political affiliations or leanings for those opposed to the gas tax holiday. "But last week some 150 economists signed a petition saying it's a bad idea," she said.
David brought on Len Burman, from the Urban Institute, who called the temporary tax cut "pandering." Burman is just one of several signatories who worked for Democratic presidents. According to the Urban Institute Web Site, Burman is a senior fellow and "held high-level positions in both the executive and legislative branches, most recently serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tax Analysis at the Treasury from 1998 to 2000," during the second Bill Clinton term.
Henry Aaron, from Brookings, was the first name listed on the latest petition and a 2006 petition to back "modest increases in state minimum wages." He also appears on a third petition against the Bush tax cuts. Aaron was a staffer during Democrat Jimmy Carter's presidency. "In 1977 and 1978, he served as Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare," according to the Brookings site.
Alice Rivlin, Clinton's head of the Office of Management and Budget from 1994-96, also appears on all three petitions. She is a senior fellow with Brookings and director of Economic Studies.
Brookings is run by another former Clinton staffer - Strobe Talbott, "deputy secretary of state in the Clinton administration," according to his bio on the group's Web site.
Columbia University's Joseph Stiglitz also signed all three petitions. Stiglitz authored a December 2007 Vanity Fair piece blasting "catastrophe that was the Bush administration."
That petition, and another to oppose President George Bush's tax cuts, were both featured on the Web site for the left-wing Economic Policy Institute.
Even Clyde Prestowitz, a former Counselor to the Secretary of Commerce in the Reagan Administration, is far from conservative. Prestowitz is cited by Opensecrets.org as having given $20,000 to the Democratic National Committee and another $3,000 to Democratic candidates such as Sen. John Kerry. Prestowitz had only funded one Republican candidate - for less than $1,000.
Illustration by Yogi Love of Red Planet Cartoons.