The Politics of The Gas Pump
By: R.J. Moeller
From The Chicago Tribune:
U.S. gasoline prices surged ever closer to the $4-a-gallon threshold in the latest week, placing more pressure on lawmakers to show voters they are working to provide relief at the pump.
In Chicago, the average price for a gallon of gasoline jumped 10 cents to hit $4.352 over the past week, the Energy Department said. That exceeds the city’s all-time high of $4.303 set on July 7, 2008.
From the White House to Congress, politicians facing election next year are eager to appear active on this issue, which could prove difficult to fix in the short run.
So here we have it: high gas prices, and the political class scrambling to explain why it’s not their fault (and why the government is the solution and not the problem). The truth of the matter is that politicians (even ones named Bush) have very little immediate impact on the price of gas.
But that doesn’t mean that have no impact at all, and the two political parties in this country have very different visions of how to get us cheaper energy.
Republicans want to throw open offshore and other areas to more drilling to boost domestic production and cut dependence on foreign oil.
There will be two votes in the Republican-led House of Representatives on two measures that will speed up permitting for offshore oil exploration and allow drilling off the Virginia coast.
Republicans have blasted the Obama administration for slowing the permitting process for offshore oil development and for halting a proposal to expand offshore drilling after last year’s massive BP oil spill.
Forget that none of the dire predictions about the Gulf of Mexico after the BP oil spill have come true. Progressive liberals don’t have time for the facts that stand in the way of their two primary passions: environmentalism and the massive re-distribution of wealth.
Speaking of re-distributing the wealth other people create:
Last week, the White House seized on comments from Republican House Speaker John Boehner that seemed to open the door to cutting tax breaks for oil companies.
Boehner backtracked quickly when the White House pressed for action, and he said ending the tax breaks would only lead to higher gasoline prices.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said last week he would move quickly to bring the tax legislation to the floor for a vote, but the bill’s timing is unclear.
Ultimately, the price of gas is determined by a host of contributing factors. Politicians can have an impact, and the best way for that impact to be a positive one is for them to get out of the way of productive people and corporations.