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Fly on the Wall Alert: Obama, LaHood, and Tom Friedman Tee Off

5:11 PM EDT on September 21, 2009

In yesterday's New York Times, columnist Tom Friedman published an impassioned plea for American policy-makers to reconsider their knee-jerk opposition to raising the federal gas tax or debating a carbon tax to set a more appropriate price for energy use. Friedman writes:

obamagolf.jpgThe president on the links. (Photo: Gawker)

Accordingto the energy economist Phil Verleger, a $1 tax on gasoline and dieselfuel would raise about $140 billion a year. If I had that money, I’ddevote 45 cents of each dollar to pay down the deficit and satisfy thedebt hawks, 45 cents to pay for new health care and 10 cents to cushionthe burden of such a tax on the poor and on those who need to drivelong distances.

As it happens, Friedman had the perfect opportunity to talk about his views during a long day of golfing with President Obama and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

The Nation wondered why the White House has focused its media courtship more on "traditional newspapers" rather than the bloggers who helped power Obama's election victory, while Politico's Michael Calderone declared that Friedman's audience with Obama had vaulted him "to the front of the access line."

But if Friedman's tee time with the president -- said to be a fan of the columnist's latest book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded -- is truly a mark of increased influence, one supposes it's only a matter of time before Obama and LaHood reverse their strong opposition to a gas tax hike to pay for long-term infrastructure investment.

Ah, to be a fly on the wall...

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