Dems' Reaction Is Mighty Lame

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Dems' Reaction Is Mighty Lame

President Bush's energy proposals deserve a D+ grade. The good parts: extending a tax break to owners of clean-diesel vehicles, and relying more on liquified natural gas (LNG). In France and other European countries, more and more automobiles are running on LNG.

But the other elements of his plan strike me as misguided -- for example, pushing to expand refining capacity. Doing so creates a disincentive for automakers to produce cars that run on LNG (and for consumers to buy these cars). And why didn't Bush propose raising the federal tax deduction for hybrid car owners, or (better yet) converting the tax deduction to a tax credit? (Credits are more valuable.)

This presented Democrats with an opening, especially as the average price of gasoline at the pump hit $2.23 yesterday. But, based on their published quotes, at least two Democratic leaders in Congress came across sounding silly and predictably partisan in reaction to Bush's proposals. From USA Today:
“The president has suggested there is nothing he can do to provide immediate price relief,” Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, said in a written statement. “That is simply untrue. We can and should do more to lower the price of gas today.”

Reid offered no specifics but said Bush fails “to make the real investments we need to develop renewable energy sources and biofuels that will benefit our economy, create jobs, free us from this national security threat our dependence creates and protect our environment.”
Reduce gas prices today? That's a ridiculous standard to hold someone to, and people who set ridiculous standards tend not to be taken very seriously. When gas prices rose in late 1999 and early 2000, would this have been a reasonable request of the GOP Congress -- Clinton should "lower the price of gas today"?

In political terms, does Reid's statement do anything to connect with independent voters or is it likely to appeal only to voters who already dislike Bush?

This statement by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, was equally lame:
[Rep. Waxman] said Bush “never asked the American people to pitch in by cutting gasoline waste by excessive idling of their cars and other wasteful activities.”
Okay, Congressman, you're right. Bush never specifically asked Americans to not idle their cars. Neither did he ask Americans to turn out the bathroom light after they're through taking a leak. Is this the basis on which we're going to criticize him? This is the best Dems can do -- suggest that the president didn't wag his finger at the American people enough?

Howard Dean, care to comment on this issue? Your party needs you. Badly.

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