Both sides of the aisle agree on this one, at least in an election year - McCain and Clinton have both called for a temporary lifting of the national gas tax for the summer driving season. Obama says it's a bad idea, but that may be mostly because Hillary's for it.

Tom Friedman, back to writing at the NYT (finally!) writes today against such a move, calling (again) for an increase in pump prices as a means of providing economic incentive to ditch the SUVs and two-hour commutes. He also calls for increased alternative energy funding, solar in particular, but that's another topic.

So what's it to be, up or down?

Let's look a bit at the actual gas excise tax, first. It's currently at $0.184 per gallon, on all gasoline sold in the U.S. States, of course, add their own taxes. This rate has not increased since 1993! How about other measures in that time? Oil prices have increased dramatically, from $24.36 in 1993(adjusted to 2007 dollars) to just shy of $115 today, after hitting nearly $120 earlier this week. The Consumer Price Index, used to track inflation (or to explain why "I used to go to the movies for a dime", etc.....crazy old-timers) has increased from 143 in 1993 to 211 in 2008 (with 1982 as the 100 standard). In other words, what would have cost $1.43 in 1993 now costs $2.11.

So oil costs more, a dollar doesn't go as far, but the federal tax at the pump hasn't gone up a tenth of a cent.

Sounds like a pretty darn good tax holiday to me.

(We'll save the bids for an increased tax for later...)