Discuss as:

The downside to suspending the gas tax?

From NBC's Mark Murray
Donning my old hat as a transportation reporter, it's worth noting that McCain's call to suspend the 18.4-cent gas tax from Memorial Day to Labor Day also potentially dries up funding to use to pay for highway/public transportation infrastructure.

The 18.4-cent gas tax goes into a Highway Trust Fund, which pays for roads, bridges, subways, etc. So there's a legitimate  policy question here: If you suspend that tax, what are you doing to an already-deteriorating infrastructure system? (After all, remember that bridge collapse in Minneapolis/St. Paul, where interestingly the GOP convention takes place in September.)

VIDEO: Presidential candidate John McCain talks to CNBC's John Harwood about his economic plan.

The Wall Street Journal's Stephen Power also raises this question about suspending the gas tax: "Relief — or fewer jobs? According to a white paper circulated on Capitol Hill last week by the U.S. Transportation Department, every $1 billion of federal highway investment supports 34,779 jobs. Many economists have also questioned the wisdom of suspending or cutting gas taxes; doing so, they say, simply stimulates more consumption of gasoline."

Asked for a response, McCain spokesman Brian Rogers emails First Read, "Sen. McCain believes that general revenue transfers should be made to offset the impact on the transportation fund."

*** UPDATE *** Matthew Jeanneret, a spokesman for the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, tells First Read that suspending the federal gas tax for three months could cost $9 billion from the federal highway trust fund. And if that lost $9 billion is replaced by general Treasury revenues, that will increase the size of the deficit. "It might be good politics," Jeanneret says of the McCain measure. "But it is shortsighted, and it won't do anything to stimulate the economy."