High gas prices are causing politicians to pander and dissemble--and avoid proposing any real solutions.
12:00 AM, May 24, 2004 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
But most of all, those on the president's reelection team are hoping for a coherent long-term energy policy. They privately admit that the energy bill they are required to advocate is a costly nonsense, and will do virtually nothing to enhance domestic supplies of crude oil, which now meet only about 40 percent of U.S. demand. No one in the administration denies that the solution to America's dependence on foreign oil, and especially on oil from the increasingly threatened Saudi royal family, does not lie in anything the administration proposes. It lies, instead, in making imported oil more expensive, thereby discouraging demand for it and encouraging the development of alternative sources of supply and new technologies. But making imported oil still more expensive is not considered as great a vote winner as encouraging fantasies about the SPR (Democrats), pressing for more drilling in Alaska (Republicans), or relying on the Saudis to keep their word about prices (the IEA). If Bush had the nerve to tax imports, motorists' dollars would flow into the U.S., rather than into OPEC treasuries. Which is too sensible to be considered in an election year.
Irwin M. Stelzer is director of economic policy studies at the Hudson Institute, a columnist for the Sunday Times (London), a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard, and a contributing writer to The Daily Standard.