Some had been waiting for more than an hour – sitting in a line of cars that stretched for blocks. Others had arrived hours early, just to be the first in line. Local radio and morning television teased their audience with hints and sparse details before finally making the announcement. After that, the location and details spread like wildfire via text, Twitter and Facebook. What was so important that hundreds would wait in line so long? A new lifesaving medicine? Free hundred dollar bills? A fabulous celebrity cruise? No, nothing quite that glamorous. Americans for Prosperity was offering gasoline at the same price as when President Obama took office, $1.84 a gallon.
To be clear we didn’t actually sell the gas, we just team up with a local gas station and pay the difference in price so that the first 150 cars can fill up for $1.84 a gallon. This rollback on the price of gasoline saves the average consumer $28 - $35 depending on where they live. Yet people go to extraordinary measures to save what some of us wouldn’t consider a lot of money.
That reality hit home last Sunday at a gas station in Cincinnati, where a young woman was the 151st car in line. I walked over to explain that we were out of vouchers and we were sorry but she had missed the cut off. As soon as the words were out of my mouth she burst into tears. Desperately she explained that the neighbor had been a little late to watch her kids while she drove miles and waited a long time to buy gas at our promotion price. Through her tears she explained that money was so tight around her little family that this savings were how she was planning to get by for the week. I relented and we filled up her tank.
This exchange and the hundreds like it at similar events in Nevada, Missouri, Iowa and Michigan are a powerful reminder of how careful everyday Americans are with their hard earned dollars. Throughout the country people plan, cut coupons, scrimp and save to put food on the table and gas in the tank. Even a $28 savings is a big deal.
You know who could learn a lesson from that? Our elected leaders in Washington. Examples are almost too numerous to mention, but we all remember the extravagant party thrown by GSA, a department of the federal government. GSA spent over $823,000 taxpayer dollars on a lavish conference in Las Vegas that featured a mind reader, piles of sushi and in-room parties.
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