But last year, you might recall, the core inflation rate was tame, the economy's growth rate was a robust 3.5 percent for the year, and it roared to 4.8 percent in the first quarter of this year. Higher oil and gas prices no doubt had an impact on costs and on consumer behavior, but America's $12 trillion economy absorbed them and kept growing.
It will also be recalled that we went through a similar period last year, as gas prices rose to new heights, where demand fell and gas prices fell with it, only to rise again as lower prices boosted demand.
The question, of course, is what are we going to do about it? Consumers for now are responding the way you would expect them to by using less gas -- car pooling, using mass transit, driving more efficiently. Last week, it was reported that consumers weren't buying the big SUVs, but Toyota plants couldn't produce the gas-stingy hybrids fast enough.
Beyond that, we need to boost oil production in our own country and build more refineries. The Republican-run House took up a bill last week to make it easier to build refineries in the United States, but the Democrats voted to block its approval.
We have a lot of oil that can be drilled safely in the Outer Continental Shelf and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to help make us more energy independent. But that legislation was blocked, too.
The Democrats' agenda for the energy problem seems to be no drilling in Alaska, no new oil refineries and no nuclear energy plants. Instead, let's raise taxes on the oil companies -- a proposal that would not produce a drop of new oil nor an additional gallon of gas. In fact, it would lead to less because oil companies would have less to spend for new oil exploration and refineries.
There's a great campaign issue in all this for the GOP. The only solution is to boost oil and gas supplies, and clearly the Democrats are unalterably opposed to doing that. Make that the issue this November.
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