Electeds Go to the Mat for Cheap Gas

Desperate to look as if they’re responding to motorists complaints and prayers, state and federal electeds continue to scramble for a quick fix to ever-rising gas prices.

In Albany, Senate Republicans have adopted the state gas tax "holiday" as their issue of the moment. Since the largely-ridiculed measure is going nowhere in the Assembly, Joe Bruno and colleagues can circulate petitions and distribute mailers like the one above with impunity, scoring cheap political points while accomplishing nothing.

But the diddling in Albany seems innocuous when compared to doings in D.C. Yesterday, with George W. Bush enroute to the Middle East, both the House and Senate overwhelmingly voted to divert oil supplies from the national reserve, even as many lawmakers acknowledged that doing so would at best result in a small, short-term drop in prices at the pump.

Democrats basically portrayed the vote as a stall tactic offered in lieu of an actual energy policy. Here’s a preview from New York’s senior senator, as quoted in the Times:

A group of Democratic senators … sought to put pressure on Saudi Arabia, where Mr. Bush will be visiting this week, as they called on the Saudis to increase their oil production or face the possibility of Congress blocking a pending arms deal.

"We are saying to the Saudis that if you don’t help us, why should we be helping you?" said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York. "We are saying that the relationship has to be a two-way street. We are saying that we need real relief and we need it quickly."

Image via Albany Times Union

  • Larry Littlefield

    Again, who would pay to make up the revenues lost, and when.

    There is a generational war going on, with all the politicians on one side. They are pandering to organized interests, controlled by the needs and wants of older generations.

    Are there so few people over 50 who care about their own kids and grandkids? Those who came of age in the 1950s and 1960s have to be the whiniest generations in American history.

  • Mark Walker

    Defunding highways by killing the gas tax is OK by me. But failing to top off the strategic petroleum reserve is a bad idea — the purpose of it is to provide 90 days of fuel in time of national emergency. That a huge majority of Congress is willing to throw national security to the winds to shave a few pennies off gas for the car-dependent is just plain scary.

  • JF

    both the House and Senate overwhelmingly voted to divert oil supplies from the federal reserve

    Looks like Obama is willing to pander just as much as the other two senators. But Wayne Allard being the only senator with any sense on the matter? That’s just weird.

  • Car Free Nation

    Any effort to lower prices, and thereby increase demand, will be counterproductive to reducing gas prices. There are many indications that the current price of oil is being caused by speculation in the oil futures market. We now have a bubble similar the real estate bubble of a couple of years ago.

    If we took the counterintuitive approach of actually increasing the gas tax (or at least talking about it), we’d see a decrease in demand, which would probably spook the speculators, and thereby significantly lower the price. (perhaps to as little as half of what it is now) This would in turn help fund the government at the expense of the Middle Eastern and Russian oil cartels.

    Of course this would never happen…

  • Marty Barfowitz

    JF,

    Maybe he’s just a sensible guy but it may also be that Sen. Allard doesn’t want to do anything to hurt his state’s newly burgeoning oil and gas exploration industry. It’s worth it to drill in Colorado when oil costs $127/barrel.

  • Mark Walker

    The role of speculators in high oil/gas prices is overblown. Most of the people blaming futures investors are the same panderers who demonize the oil companies. The real underlying trend — the giant gorilla in the room — is peak oil. Speculation just causes small blips in the much larger arc of peaking and depletion.

  • Ian D

    If we took the counterintuitive approach of actually increasing the gas tax (or at least talking about it), we’d see a decrease in demand, which would probably spook the speculators, and thereby significantly lower the price. (perhaps to as little as half of what it is now) This would in turn help fund the government at the expense of the Middle Eastern and Russian oil cartels.

    I first had this explained to me in, um, 1988 or ’90, by Sen. John Kerry, while I was working for his Senate reelection. This is almost word-for-word what he said. And he ended up his explanation with something like:

    Of course this would never happen…

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