President Bush and congressional Republicans are under mounting public pressure to reduce gasoline prices, but they have few if any policy choices that would cut them over the next few months as family driving reaches its annual peak and as the midterm elections near.
While many of the problems are indeed long term, and should have been addressed by George H.W. Bush or Clinton, the fact remains - as I've said before - that there are a number of short term actions Bush can take right now to significantly reduce the price of gas. In fact, according to this FTC report, at least 15% of the price is the result of policy considerations. Frankly, I think he could easily reduce the price at least 30%, if not more, for the duration of the summer driving season.
1. Open up the Outer Continental Shelf and Lease Sale Area 181 to oil and gas (natural gas) development. Right now its under a year to year moratoria on development, a moratoria which is before the Department of Interior as we speak, and so far Bush has refused to do so because he wants to help his brother politically in Florida. Screw that. We elected him, not his brother.
If he opened up 181 then resistance to development elsewhere would melt away, ending lots of speculation on long term energy supplies and realizing an immediate drop in the price of a barrel of oil.
2. Waive boutique fuel requirements for this summer. This will cause pollution levels to rise slightly (but enough reductions have been realized elsewhere over the last 9 years - by power plants, new engine technologies, and low sulfur fuel) that most people won't notice it. It will also cause the price of a gallon of gas to drop about 30 cents as combined refining and distribution costs are cut almost in half. Here's some more info on boutique fuels. This, of course, would also have the added benefit of showcasing how idiotic and economically harmful some of the Clean Air Act's requirements are . . . . and put environmentalists on the defensive for a generation. Frankly, Bush's standing on environmental issues couldn't get any lower. Why the hell does he even care what these people think? And why is he willing to sacrifice the American economy on their behalf?
3. Suspend collection of federal fuel taxes - a savings of 18.4 cents a gallon. The government could do with a little tightening of its purse strings, and what a better way to do so than to boost the economy (and therefore tax revenues) at the same time. He can also financial incentives and economic guarantees to get states to provide some relief too. Here is a nice primer on gas taxes generally.
For what its worth, here is a good primer on gasoline prices. A new one, with 2005 data, is due out in June. You can also check out the wikipedia entry.
It well within Bush's power to do something about the problem, and to do it now.
Why won't he show any leadership?????
This is simply not enough.
President Bush is trying to calm Americans' outrage over soaring gas prices by ordering an investigation into whether the price of gasoline has been illegally manipulated, his spokesman said Monday.
Bush's actions are part of a four-part plan to address gas prices in the short- and long-term, McClellan said. The steps McClellan outlined are:
1. making sure consumers and taxpayers are treated fairly;
2. promoting greater fuel efficiency;
3. boosting gasoline supply at home;
4. aggressive long-term investment in alternative fuels.
Seriously, this is wholly inadequate. Couldn't the Democrats have nominated someone even slightly better than the Traitorous Lout? Can we fire Bush now?? Speaking of which, why in the hell is McClellan still speaking with the press. I thought they canned him? If this half assed response is the best he can do, perhaps Bush can follow him out the door too.
UPDATE Well, this is a start!
President Bush on Tuesday ordered a temporary suspension of environmental rules for gasoline, making it easier for refiners to meet demand and possibly dampen prices at the pump. He also halted for the summer the purchase of crude oil for the government's emergency reserve.
Wholesale gasoline futures prices for June delivery dropped 8 cents a gallon to $2.10 on the New York Mercantile Exchange immediately upon Bush's remarks.
Easing the environment rules will allow refiners greater flexibility in providing oil supplies since they will not have to use certain additives such as ethanol to meet clean air standards. The suspension of oil purchases for the federal emergency oil reserve is likely to have only modest impact since relative little extra oil will be involved.
I would expect that the ultimate impact of this is going to be about 30-40 cents per gallon, depending on where you live. You should see some impact on prices within a week.
Update: Heh! Score Two!!!!
Democrats are set to introduce a measure that would create a "federal gas tax holiday" by eliminating the federal tax on gas and diesel for sixty days, RAW STORY has learned.
The measure, proposed by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), would reduce the cost of gas by $0.184 per gallon and the cost of diesel by $0.244 per gallon. The move, aides say, will provide $100 million dollars per day in relief.
And in less than 24 hours. Sometimes I really do know what I am talking about :)
Now, lets just try to get the Republicans to go along - or propose something even better.
Vote Republican, We Haven't Quite Tanked The Economy As Bad As Carter!
Sounds like a winning slogan to me (and yes, the pun is intentional).