It’s a little disconcerting to think that gas prices â€” not Iraq, not Katrina, not the extra-constitutional power grabs â€” could decide whether Shrub’s presidency recovers or collapses into complete irrelevancy for the next three years. But the good Dr. Pollkatz has already plotted the relationship, and it’s statistically suggestive, to say the least.
It’s especially disconcerting when you consider that in 2000 the Bush campaign criticized the Clinton-Gore administration for its inability to lower gas prices.
Mr. Bush was critical of Al Gore in the 2000 campaign for being part of â€œthe administration that’s been in chargeâ€ while the â€œprice of gasoline has gone steadily upward.â€ In December 1999, in the first Republican primary debate, Mr. Bush said President Clinton â€œmust jawbone OPEC members to lower prices.â€
Katharine Q. Seelye wrote in the June 22, 2000 New York Times — “Price of Gasoline Emerges as Issue in Bush-Gore Race” —
Mr. Bush and Republicans on Capitol Hill blame the gas-price increase on the Clinton administration, saying the administration has had no coherent domestic energy policy and, in imposing regulations to meet clean air standards, had allowed prices to drift as high as $2.39 a gallon in the Midwest. Mr. Bush also said the administration had failed to persuade the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to ”open the spigots” to increase the supply.
After an announcement that the Federal Trade Commission would be investigating possible price gouging, Vice President Gore’s campaign made a point of connecting Governor Bush to Big Oil.
Senator Harkin, speaking on behalf of the Gore campaign on a conference call with reporters, accused the oil companies of ”outright thievery.” He went on to castigate Mr. Bush for his ”silence” on the matter, saying, ”What can you expect of someone who once claimed, and I quote, ‘There’s no such thing as being too closely aligned to the oil business in West Texas’?”
The quotation from Mr. Bush was made in a 1978 Congressional campaign. Acknowledging that the quotation was more than 20 years old, Mr. Harkin said: ”The point is, the test of character and leadership is when you’re willing to take on your friends when it’s in the nation’s best interest.”
Mr. Bush signed an emergency tax bill in 1999 that gave state tax breaks to oil and gas companies. The Dallas Morning News reported that the bill saved Richard Rainwater, a former Bush business partner, $1 million. At least 14 of Mr. Bush’s ”Pioneers,” his largest financial contributors, have ties to the oil industry.
Mr. Bush’s campaign has received $1.5 million from energy interests as of April 30, while Mr. Gore had received less than $125,000 as of the same date.
I got a big piece of this analysis from thinking about a comment from an AR relative, who said she voted for Bush because she thought that Bush would keep gas prices lower, and that mattered a lot. This was counterintuitive to me: the US oil industry (Bush’s home turf) lives and dies on gas prices, and the higher the better. One could even argue that Bush pere conspired with the Saudis to keep Saddam Hussein in power in Iraq in order to keep Iraq’s oil off the market, to keep Iraq from depressing the market.
If it’s Tuesday, it’s time for new record low Bush approval ratings. Georgia10 writes,
So President Bush woke up today and suddenly gave a damn about gas prices. Mr. 32% spent this morning calling for a investigation into possible cheating, price gouging or illegal manipulation in the gasoline markets. He also will asked the EPA to ease clean air restrictions, and he temporarily stopped deposits into the strategic petroleum reserve, a move that will have only a “negligible” impact on gas prices. The media are lapping it up, but they refuse to mention that Bush is forced to face the consequences of his own failed energy policy.
This is the most preposterous story I’ve read recently. Bush is going after his own people, the ones who helped get him elected. He’s going after the very men and companies that have led to this situation. First, Bush allows private meetings with oil companies and others, including people representing nuclear, so they can help craft our energy policy. Republicans give subsidies to companies that don’t need it. All the while President Bush doesn’t do a thing to help mitigate our independence, believing only ANWAR is the answer. If it isn’t drilling it doesn’t have a place in Bush’s world. We’ve also got Frist and Hastert planning to look into the oil companies. There’s only one reason they’re doing this and it’s because there’s an election. They’re trying to save themselves. The don’t want solutions or they would have been working on one long before now. Bush has been in office for years. What, he’s now just discovering we have an energy problem? This is a charade.
Besides, if Bush wants to know if price gouging is going on why doesn’t he just pick up the phone? Republicans know these guys, the oil men. They are one of their own. Don’t go through this political dance. Just go to the men who brought you to Washington and ask them. It’s not like they wouldn’t take Bush’s call.
I ‘spect it’s the same reason he didn’t try real hard to look into the Valerie Plame leak — he doesn’t really want to know.
Back to Georgia10:
Where has the President been for the last three years or so, as we’ve seen gas prices skyrocket? First, he promised the Iraq War would lower gas prices. As his senior economic adviser stated in 2002:
“The key issue is oil, and a regime change in Iraq would facilitate an increase in world oil,” which would drive down oil prices, giving the U.S. economy an added boost.
It turns out that the Iraq War didn’t increase world oil, only oil profits. So, then, President Bush promised that his energy policy (which included massive tax breaks for the oil industry) would help our energy crisis. Well, it did not help, but that result is to be expected when our nation’s energy policy is drafted by the oil industry.
So where has the President been? Obviously, his administration does not shoulder all of the blame for high gas prices. But his deliberate absence and incompetence on this issue have only made the situation worse.
Now that the issue finally has his attention, he realized this would be a great time to suspend environmental rules for oil refiners. Typical. And he’s making more noise about our “addiction to oil,” although I haven’t noticed he’s come up with any concrete program to ween us of our addiction.
Meanwhile, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) has proposed that federal gas taxes be eliminated for 60 days. This would reduce the price of gas by more than 18 cents a gallon. Democrats propose cutting six billion dollars in tax breaks to oil firms to make up the lost revenue. Currently, the money from the federal gas tax goes to the Highway Trust fund.
Of course, what we really need to do is get serious about alternate energy sources and put more money into mass transit — the sort of thing Al Gore was talking about many years ago. But you know how it is — conservation and solar energy are for sissies. Real men drill.