Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Number One Issue in ’08: Gas Prices?

I have written a few times on this site about energy and gas prices being an issue this Presidential Election season. I am now convinced that it could be a very big factor in not just the Presidential election, but Congressional and Senatorial campaigns as well. Gas prices hit an all time high today for our national average at $4.11 a gallon. The Democrats campaigned on lowering energy and gas prices back in 2006. So far, they haven't done anything about it. $4.00 appears to be the point when most Americans begin to lose patience with the "environmental movement" and decide it is time to do something. A few days ago I saw a t-shirt selling on ebay. The shirt had a picture of a polar bear and said, "I'd drill through his A—, for cheaper gas!" I have always been amazed at the good PR the Polar Bear gets. Let's not forget that this is an animal known to stalk and kill people, and routinely eats seals. Why do you think the Polar Bear hangs out on ice?

I digress. Many Republicans are pushing hard to at least get a floor vote on off shore drilling. Pelosi and Reid are both playing this down. Neither of them wants a roll call vote with their members voting against off shore drilling come November. I'm not a professional campaign manager, but I bet a very effective add could be made with a Representative or Senator voting against drilling, and gas prices at $5 in November. Pelosi has said she won't allow any energy bills to see the floor for fear that an off shore drilling vote could come up. Reid has said he doesn't think anything will happen in the Senate, but Republicans and some Democrats don't agree with him.

There is a move in the Senate to create a "Gang of 14" style compromise. According to the Politico, this would show up in a bill that opens up the coast for drilling, but includes some conservation or alternative fuel measures. Depending on the language, there is a real opportunity to get some meaningful legislation passed here. There are already Democrats committing their support to this bill. If it passed in the Senate, there would be more pressure on the House to do something.

I called a U. S. Representative’s office today to discuss off shore drilling with them. I called as a simple voter, and not in any way associated with this blog. While discussing the merits of off shore drilling, and discussing alternative energy such as bio-fuels and nuclear power, the staffer I talked to wouldn’t commit one way or another for the Representative they worked for. At one point in the conversation, the aide even asked not to be quoted. I have never been told from an elected officials office that they didn't want to be quoted while talking to a voter. I took one very clear message from this: This particular Representative isn’t willing to commit one way or another on this issue. If that is true, then Reid and Pelosi may be in for a loss as Democrats work to craft a bill with Republicans against the Democratic Leadership’s wishes. This could make this years Congressional and Senatorial campaigns much closer than the conventional wisdom.

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