Overtime inside the Beltway

Posted: 08/04/2008 by ttownjotes in gas, GOP, government, News & Politics, Politics, Republican, US House
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While the majority Democrats decided it was time to pack up and head home for the usual August Congressional recess, a small renegade group of Republicans stayed behind to press the issue of energy independence. You know, I’ve heard a lot of folks say that it’s about time the Republicans showed they had a spine.

Unfortunately, all this bluster sort of escaped notice by the “drive-by” media, which isn’t surprising given who they’re in the tank for in this election. It’s one time the new media has taken the lead in coverage and ignored the B-list celebrity aspect of the Obama campaign – the mainstreamers have perfected ignoring to an art form as far as the McCain side goes. (Well, unless McCain does a campaign commercial they dislike.)

It appears that my blogging cohort The Waterman has gotten a front-row seat to the action, my guess is that he’s spending his summer as an intern for some Congressman or group. Regardless, he did jot down a few thoughts on Friday about the experience of having Nancy Pelosi turn out the lights and tell the GOP the party was over. (No, Nancy, it’s only just begun.) As well, The Waterman points out another first-hand report on the Americans for Tax Reform blog (perhaps that’s where he’s working.)

Is this all symbolism? Of course, because the GOP is a minority they can’t put together a quorum for business, and despite the Republicans’ most strenuous objections to the procedural call indeed the House is out of business until after Labor Day. Maybe the Democrats are hoping that oil prices continue to fall and along with that prices at the pump decrease too. We’ll still likely be looking at $3.50 per gallon by Labor Day though, and while that price is below the $4 a gallon tipping point which seems to the the highest price Americans will tolerate without complete outrage, it’s still over $1 a gallon higher than the price in force when Democrats seized back control of Congress after the 2006 elections.

I’ll come back to this point shortly, but one thing I received in my e-mail today was an update from the Harris campaign which featured an AP story by Kristen Wyatt. (She must be the Eastern Shore beat reporter because she has a lot of items in the Daily Times as well.) My jaw about hit the floor when Wyatt’s story claimed that Democratic opponent Frank Kratovil supported expanding domestic oil production like Harris did. Kratovil only wants to use the land already leased by oil companies which may or may not have marketable oil reserves on it, but not explore in other areas which are much more likely to pan out, like ANWR or on the Outer Continental Shelf. In many other areas of the Kratovil plan he advocates market-bending federal involvement and a reliance on “alternative” sources of energy that may be decades away from being practical unless heavily subsidized by our tax dollars.

In nearly two years of Democrat control, about all that Congress has accomplished is placing more restrictions on energy usage, for one example all but wiping out the incadescent light bulb in favor of the more efficient but more dangerous and harder to dispose of compact fluorescent bulbs. (Of course, President Bush didn’t veto the proposal either, to his discredit.) They haven’t created one volt of electricity or gallon of gasoline by doing common-sense items that would encourage oil and natural gas exploration, in particular loosening environmental restrictions. The permitting process for new power plants or oil refineries is way too long and arduous.

As I noted earlier, the GOP stalwarts can’t actually accomplish anything in terms of crafting and passing legislation by staying behind in Washington while their cohorts head home for some R and R. What they can do is show that they’re willing to work and solve these problems while the majority hems and haws about shifting to alternative fuels.

But perhaps the time spent would be more useful if the GOP got together and drafted up a list of legislative measures they’ll work on when Congress returns and make it public, sort of like 1994’s Contract With America. In this case, it would be all about energy independence through obtaining our own supplies of oil, coal, natural gas, and, hey, if T. Boone Pickens wants to front the cash, we can add wind power to the mix as well. I have no objection to that if the price is right. (In a side note, Maryland officials may be buying up the offshore wind power that Delmarva Power doesn’t buy from the Bluewater Wind project. Naturally it costs more to produce this electricity than it would to produce through more conventional sources, but Governor O’Malley isn’t one to be too worried about costs, is he?)

On the whole I’m very pleased (for once) that someone in Washington is willing to work to get legislation done, although I’m hoping that they pay as much mind to eliminating laws and regulations as they do to creating them.

Crossposted on monoblogue.

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