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Bush, Gore Cool To Gas Proposals

July 3, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Presidential candidates George W. Bush and Al Gore both reacted coolly Monday to the idea of suspending the federal gasoline tax to ease high prices at U.S. pumps.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia was reported to be planning to increase the flow of oil to decrease the price.

``I’m very pleased at the reports that Saudi Arabia is proposing to increase production by a considerable amount,″ Gore said while campaigning. ``I want to call on the big oil companies to let that pass through in the form of price reductions to the people who are filling up at the gasoline filling stations. What we need is not a trickle of relief, we need significant reduction.″

Recent talk in Congress of suspending the 18-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax didn’t get a positive reception from Bush, the likely Republican nominee, or from Gore, the likely Democrat.

``The federal gas tax has not changed since 1993. Our position is the big oil companies are the ones who have some explaining to do,″ said Gore spokesman Chris Lehane.

Bush said he was ``cautious about any federal tax relief″ for gasoline because it could hurt states like Texas that count on such tax money for transportation projects.

Republicans in Congress have been discussing whether to suspend the gas tax to alleviate the price crunch that has hit consumers, particularly in the Midwest.

House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas said Sunday that the House would likely go along if the Senate voted to suspend the federal tax. But he cautioned that a new way would have to be found to pay for highway construction.

``The long-term solution is an energy policy,″ Bush said. ``The short-term solution is the price of crude on the market. The administration ought to convince our friends in OPEC to increase the supply of crude oil.″

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