Monday, May 5, 2008

Democrats’ gas promises run on empty

By Lynn Westmoreland

Filling up my truck back home this week, I felt the pain at the pump as the price ticked above $90 and kept on going to $93.

Every Georgia motorist experiences the exact same frustration – or perhaps rage – as they fuel their vehicles to go to work, take the kids to school or pick up groceries.

When Democrats were in the minority in Congress in 2006, they howled about $2-a-gallon gas prices and campaigned so diligently on the issue you half expected to see Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi pumping your gas for free at the local station.

I know politicians campaign in poetry and govern in prose. But the prose needs to at least resemble the poetry. And Democrats’ energy policies since they’ve been in power in no way reflect what they promised on the campaign trail.

In April 2006, Pelosi said: “Democrats have a common-sense plan to lower gas prices.” Other Democratic leaders echoed the same theme: We have a magic plan!

It’s unfortunate no one asked for details of the magic plan. Maybe then we’d have figured out the hocus-pocus was mere sleight of hand.

One fact that I’m sure the Democrats would like to make disappear is that gas prices have risen 55 percent since they took over Congress 16 months ago. In January 2007, average American gas price was $2.33 a gallon. Today, we pay $3.62 per gallon. The extra $1.29 a gallon, the “Pelosi Premium” if you will, is squeezing families, small businesses, school districts and law enforcement agencies.

Since the Democrats have apparently decided to keep their magic plan for lower gas prices under wraps, let’s look at what they have done on energy policy.

While giving lip service to “American energy independence,” they’ve blocked all avenues for increasing U.S. energy production. They’ve blocked drilling for the 10 billion barrels buried beneath Alaskan tundra, they’ve blocked drilling for the 20 billion barrels off the shore of our coasts, and they’ve blocked development of the 1.2 trillion barrels in oil-shale in the Mountain West.

They’ve tried to raise taxes on energy companies by $18 billion – costs that would pass on to consumers. And now two of the most powerful Democratic House committee chairman are calling for hiking the federal gas tax another 50 cents per gallon. I know liberals think higher taxes are the answer for everything, but is THAT their plan for lower gas prices?

The Democrats’ so-called energy bill tells the tale. In more than 300 pages, “crude oil” is mentioned five times, “gasoline” 12 times, “exploratory drilling” two times, and “domestic drilling” isn’t mentioned even once. By contrast, look what IS in the bill: “Greenhouse” 103 mentions, “geothermal” 94 mentions, “renewable” 333 references. Amazingly, the word “lamp” showed up 350 times and even “pool” was in there 47 times. Yes, that’s right: The word “pool” showed up in the energy bill four times more often than “gasoline.”

I’m sure Americans paying $4 a gallon this summer will take comfort in knowing that Congress has taken such a keen interest in pool safety.

The fact is, gas prices have risen because of a sharp increase in global demand and constricted supplies. There is no magic plan to lower gas prices and we do have to focus on conservation and alternative energy sources. But, for now, almost all of our energy comes from traditional energy sources. We have to explore and develop those resources right here in the United States.

It would be one heck of a magic trick if the Democrats strategy of higher taxes and less supply did anything other than make gas prices soar even higher.

Lynn Westmoreland represents Georgia’s 3rd Congressional District.

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