A wag once famously observed that, “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” The same has generally been true about gas prices.
At least until this week. The hosing of American consumers (hilariously satirized in a new video by Hollywood icons David and Jerry Zucker at www.NozzleRage.com) and the attendant destruction of our economy has finally gotten the attention of the political elite in Washington and especially the Congress. Legislators are palpably in a panic at the prospect of facing voters in a few months having done nothing meaningful to bring down prices at the pump.
Don’t get me wrong. Even now, even in the face of such “Nozzle Rage,” many on Capitol Hill are more interested in posturing than doing something practical. Some leading figures in both parties continue to play to their respective constituencies. They remain more interested in gaming the system so as to avoid blame and secure advantage in the balloting this November than achieving results for either their constituents or the Nation.
Hence, we will see this week the Democratic leadership pushing for legislation to punish “speculators” who are their latest whipping boys for the current crisis. Is it too cynical to think the previous ones – the companies vilified as “Big Oil” – proved too hard to saddle with a windfall profit tax in a year when those profits are fueling, among other things, campaign contributions? Or maybe it finally dawned on these partisans that we are better off having America’s energy companies use their revenues to explore and recover more oil and gas?
Speaking of drilling, a number of Republicans on and off the Hill are promoting more drilling offshore and in Alaska as THE answer to the present national security as well as economic disaster. While that would certainly be part of a sensible solution over the medium-to-longer-term, there is an unhappy reality: As long as the OPEC cartel can reduce its output to offset any increase we make in domestic supply the net effect on prices could be nil. Obviously, that applies as well to the untapped-but-already-licensed reserves Democrats are trying to use to parry the GOP’s effort to open up new ones in what are depicted as “environmentally sensitive areas.”
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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