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The Intelligencer - "Murphy, Manion back gas tax suspension"

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Location: Doylestown, PA

Congressman Patrick Murphy, D-8, and his Republican opponent, Tom Manion, have opposing ideas on who to blame for record high gas prices, but both want to suspend gas and diesel taxes this summer.

That plan, first pitched by Republican presidential hopeful John McCain and now backed by Hillary Clinton but opposed by Barack Obama, would suspend the tax of 18.4 cents per gallon of gasoline and 24.4 cents on diesel fuel this summer.

Obama, who called the plan a political "gimmick," said suspending the tax would take federal funding from highway and bridge repairs. Murphy, an Obama supporter, said he wants to supplement the revenue lost from the tax by suspending tax breaks given to oil companies.

Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, D-13, said she was "open to the idea" of a gas tax holiday this summer but said it should be paid for through oil company profits and government subsidies given to those companies, not from federal infrastructure funding.

Murphy, Manion and Schwartz also want to suspend deposits of oil into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The country's emergency stockpile of crude held a record high of more than 700 million barrels earlier this month. President Bush opposes the idea of suspending deposits and, in a press conference Tuesday, said the reserve needed to be continuously filled in the event of a terrorist attack on the nation's oil supplies.

Murphy, Manion and Schwartz all said they want long-term solutions to the country's gas crisis, such as an investment in alternative energy, but they have differing views on whom to blame for the price of a gallon of regular unleaded that crept to $3.62 in the Philadelphia region Tuesday, according to AAA.

For Murphy and Schwartz, that blame falls with Bush. For Manion the fault lies with the Democratic-controlled Congress.

"Under this administration, a gallon of gas has soared from under $1.50 to over $3.60 right here in Bucks County; oil companies have made record profits; and President Bush continues to pass the buck instead of take responsibility," Murphy said in a statement.

Manion pointed out in a statement that the price of a gallon of gas has jumped from $2.33 to $3.60 since Democrats took control of Congress in January 2007 and said Democrats have given only "false promises" to lower the price of gas.

"If the Democrats in Congress can't lead on this vital issue, they must get out of the way so real solutions can be put into place," Manion said.

In a press conference Tuesday, President Bush said Congress was blocking his proposals to deal with high gas prices.

Schwartz dismissed the idea that high gas prices were somehow the fault of Democrats when they took control of Congress.

"This happened under George Bush's watch," said Schwartz, who pointed out that a gallon of regular unleaded was $1.43 when Bush took the oath of office in January 2001. "This is just one part of the enormous failure of the George W. Bush presidency that has led us to this moment."

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