Gas Prices and the Energy Bill That Wasn’t

Even though I am not a huge fan of George W. Bush, I always took great offense at those who attacked him and Dick Cheney for crafting policy that would enrich their oil buddies at the expense of the American taxpayer, charges often without a shred of proof. But as the price of crude and gasoline soar to new heights, I’m beginning to think those folks were on to something, even though they couldn’t prove a thing. For the Bush administration has done next to nothing to alleviate the growing problem of rising fuel costs, a threat that could swallow up the middle class and destroy any economic growth we might now be experiencing. The Bush silence on this issue is deafening.

Yet just recently the president signed a massive, do-nothing “energy” bill, running over 1,700 pages and providing some $14.5 billion in tax breaks and other incentives, an act Michael Economides, writing in the Houston Business Journal, labeled “worse than no legislation at all.” This bill, which our good friends at Citizens Against Government Waste say adds another $66 billion in federal spending, does absolutely nothing to lower the price of gasoline, a serious energy problem plaguing everyone. Which forces us to ask the question: Does Bush actually want to lower the price? It doesn’t seem like it to me. The president even stated while signing it that it is “not going to solve our energy challenges overnight.” So Mr. Bush, what are you going to do about our current problems?

The Energy Policy Act might provide some long term solutions, but we need relief now! For starters, the president should do everything within his power to lower the ever-increasing price for a gallon of fuel. This should include pumping out the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to add supply to the market, which Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has recently advocated. Critics of this idea within the administration argue that the reserve should be saved for emergencies, like disruptions in overseas imports. Yet oil is continually being added to the reserve as we speak, rather than being pumped out of it, and prices continue to rise.  A repeal of the gas tax would also greatly aid consumers.

Bush should also work to break up the OPEC cartel rather than fully supporting it. We’ve done quite a lot for our friends in the Middle East (as well as Mexico) and it’s high time they paid up! Yet instead of confronting Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, our president is seen walking hand-in-hand with the now deceased Saudi King Faud, a sickening sight! This was one argument for leaving Saddam Hussein in power in Iraq. While there, he posed a significant threat to the Saudis, as well as to the entire region. But he did not dare move on anyone with the U.S. defense umbrella in place and most of his offensive capabilities smashed during Desert Storm and the continuing Allied air patrols over the no-fly zones. We could always use that as leverage when we needed it, but no more.

And while on the subject of Iraq, why should we have liberated them free of charge? We have spent hundreds of billions of dollars and have lost over 1800 of our brave soldiers with another 13,000 wounded to secure for the Iraqi people at least the possibility of living in a free and democratic society. There is nothing wrong or immoral about being repaid with oil. America is always generally concerned with human rights abuses around the world and we usually end up paying in either blood or treasure (or both) to help fix it, but have you ever noticed that no one is ever concerned with our problems? The Iraqis, along with the people of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, ought to be down on their hands and knees thanking us profusely for liberating their region of a dangerous tyrant and should gratefully offer to repay us in kind!

As far as long term solutions go, opening up ANWR was a good start, but a beginning only. We should stop listening to environmental extremists who know nothing about the environment or oil production and open up other closed areas for drilling as well, like the oil rich Gulf of Mexico. Though it takes years to accomplish, we have the technology and the resources to end our dependence on foreign oil altogether. Remember, before the age of environmentalism, the United States was an oil exporting nation!

But instead of using some of these solutions, the president signs a bill that does not address any of our current woes. Maybe he doesn’t think they are problems at all. But plenty of middle and lower income working families certainly think so. Fuel inflation will devastate economic growth and progress, something that Bush obviously does not want to see happen. So let me give you some friendly advice, Mr. President. If you want to see the American economy boom, then work to lower the cost of fuel and the results will amaze you!


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