I'm a Pundit Too

Thursday, July 24, 2008

How Low Will Congress' Approval Go?

The Rasmussen Reports latest congressional approval tracking data has shown that paltry 9% of Americans believe that Congress is doing a good job. A closer exploration of the numbers reveals that the Democrat controlled Congress is getting abysmal marks not just among Republican voters and independents, but also among their own party loyalists. A mere 13% of those identifying themselves as registered Democrats are willing to give the Congress high marks. The Democratic Party leadership will surely attempt to shift the blame upon the Republican minority or the President, but a cursory examination of their legislative accomplishments sheds the light of truth on the real reasoning behind the historic congressional dissatisfaction.

While Congress has passed a few pieces of legislation that have made headlines this year, they have become increasingly belligerent on even attempting anything of substance on the climbing price of oil. The American voting public is most concerned about the high cost of energy. Poll after poll has shown that the citizenry are demanding that something be done to curb the rapid increase in energy costs. While virtually every credible expert on energy has pointed to the ever-increasing demand for oil from countries like China and India, congressional leadership has chosen to play partisan politics as usual. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that there is no shortage of oil and that drilling for oil will not solve anything. Yet she proposed releasing the equivalent of 3.5 days worth of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. If drilling off our own oil will not solve anything, how will sending 3.5 days worth of oil on to the market solve anything? Pelosi is gambling that the vast majority of the public will hear her sound byte on the evening news and discount that the price at the pump never changes.

Senator Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington, alluded to the fact that the Democratic leadership would like to use the current high price of gas to move us away from the use of oil. The Democratic Party has decided that the high price of gas is good for us as a country because we will drive less and push for alternative energy sources. The problem with this logic is that the alternative sources are not viable right now. They claim that even if they allowed us to drill in ANWR and offshore we would not see that oil for at least 5 years. At least we would be drilling for our own oil and not be held hostage to the whims of some third world dictator. We would be increasing the supply to meet the increasing demand.

We need to be working on alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar, but we also need to be building more nuclear power plants to meet our own demands. We need to be building new refineries in our own country. It makes virtually no sense that there has been no refinery built in the United States for the past 30 years. It makes no sense that we do not tap into our own wealth of oil in our own country, when we are importing more than 70% of our oil. We have, by some estimates, as much or more oil within our own country than in all of the Middle East. Is it any wonder why we have $4 a gallon gas? The opponents scream about the potential for accidents and the potential damage to the environment, but how much oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico when Katrina blew into Louisiana and Mississippi? After the worst hurricane in history to land in the Gulf States, there was not one drop of oil spilled due the devastating storm.

A few months ago, Senator John McCain proposed a summer hiatus from federal gas taxes, which is currently about 18 cents a gallon. Most in Congress called it pointless because it would not affect the price at the pump significantly. This week a congressional commission, the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, released their recommendations to Congress. Included in their recommendations is a 40 cent a gallon increase in the federal gas tax to help pay for our bridges and highways. Does anyone actually believe that the increase in taxes will ever make it to the bridges and highways? Did the tobacco lawsuit money ever make it to help those afflicted by smoking? While most on the panel do not believe that this will ever come to fruition, it is just another example of why the public does not approve of the job that Congress is doing.

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