With gas prices hovering around $4 a gallon, I think it’s important for the American people to realize that there are two camps on this issue in Washington.
There are those who want to do something about the problem, and there are those who just want people to think they’re doing something about the problem.
And let’s be clear: President Obama is firmly planted in the say anything, but do-nothing camp. If there were any doubt about that he dispelled it when he blocked the Keystone pipeline, and then again this week by embracing the age-old Democrat dodge of blaming gas prices on speculators.
Look, what bothers Americans isn’t that the president has unpopular views on this issue. Everybody knows he’s doesn’t really support an all-of-the above approach to energy. What bothers people is the fact that he pretends like he does.
What bothers people is the president blocking one half of a pipeline one day, then showing up at a ribbon-cutting for the other half on another. It’s blocking domestic energy, and then taking credit for increases that came about as a result of his predecessor’s decisions. It’s pretending that speculators have a big impact on the price of gas when his own staff can’t even point to any.
This president said he was different, and a lot of people believed him. But to a growing number of Americans, that’s just what he’s become: just one more politician saying the same things they always say.
This week has been a real clarifier for people when it comes to this president. Whether it’s the Buffett tax that won’t lower the deficit or a commission on speculators that even the White House says won’t lower the price of gas, what they’ve seen this week is a president who seems a lot more interested in looking like he’s solving problems than actually solving them.
For years, Washington Democrats have had the same rigid opposition to expanding domestic energy exploration. The only people they seem to listen to are extremists. But instead of just stating their position and letting the political chips fall where they may, they pull out the same poll-tested talking points they always do, on the assumption that reporters will just reprint them like it’s the first time they’ve used them and that everybody else will just forget.
But with gas prices at about $4 a gallon, it’s time somebody called them out on it. Ten years ago today, Democrats voted down a bill to open up a tiny area in Alaska known as ANWR to drilling. They relied on the non-argument that it would ‘take too long’ to get the oil to market. Every Democrat who was asked about it said the same thing; that it would take too long to get the oil to market. I’ve got two pages of quotes from Democrats saying it would take at least seven to 10 years to get the oil to market.
Well, here we are, 10 years later. In some places gas now costs three times what it did in April 2002. The United States still imports half its oil. ANWR is still off-limits. And if you ask Democrats why they oppose more domestic exploration, they’ll tell you the same thing they did 10 years ago.
This is precisely the kind of thing this president campaigned against four years ago. He was the one who was going to stop kicking the can down the road. He was the one who was going to tackle the problems everybody else was afraid to face. He was the one who was going to rise above the petty squabbles and the tired talking points of the past and offer something different.
He was a different kind of politician who would usher in a new era of authenticity. And what did the American people get? They got the same gimmicks as before. They got someone whose idea of solving a problem is to give a speech about it, or to blame whatever person, place, or thing doesn’t happen to poll well that day. What the American people got was a president who refuses to lead.
It’s the same thing they get from the Democrat-controlled Senate. The same tired talking points. The same evasion. The same refusal to address our problems head on.
This week, the chairman of the Budget Committee made it official: for the third year in a row, Senate Democrats will refuse to do the basic work of governance by refusing to offer a budget blueprint for government spending as required by law.
After pledging both to me and his Republican counterpart on the committee that he would, in fact, mark up a budget this year, the chairman of the Budget Committee bowed, once again, to the political pressure and said he won’t put his Democratic colleagues at any political risk by asking them to vote on a plan their constituents might not like. Not until after the election, that is.
The Democrat chairman did suggest, however, that if Europe implodes, he might change his mind. Well, with all due respect, the statute doesn’t say the majority must present a budget if the European economy implodes. It says it must present a budget, period, so that the American people can see how much they’re going to be taxed and how their tax dollars are being spent.
So I’m having a hard time thinking of a word to describe the level of leadership we’re getting from Democrats in Washington these days — whether it’s the president or the Democrat Senate. It’s a disgrace. There isn’t a single issue I can think of that they’re willing to do anything about.
Under this president’s watch, Washington has been spending more than a trillion dollars a year more than it takes in. And Senate Democrats don’t even have the courage to put it all in black and white. They don’t have any problem spending it. They just don’t want to be on record voting for it. That’s what passes for leadership in Washington these days.
Well, something’s got to give. Our challenges are too urgent. The status quo just won’t cut it anymore.