The Corner

President Running out of Gas

It should come as no surprise that the President’s poll numbers remain low and the supposed bounce has frittered away.  Gas prices remain high.  As the liberal Professor Pollkatz shows, there is a strong correlation between gas prices and the President’s approval rating.  This is entirely plausible and unlikely to be spurious in my opinion because, as the Professor points out,

[T]he price of gasoline is just about the only Federal policy result non-wonks see and can relate to on a day-to-day basis.  Tax cuts?  Most people don’t even know how much tax they pay.  War and defense?  Affects foreigners and National Guard families, not the rest of us.  But gasoline price displays, changing daily, hit people directly where they live.  And they blame Bush.

More support for this hypothesis comes from the latest Gallup Poll, which finds that 26 percent of Americans regard Iraq as America’s most important problem, but not far behind on 15 percent comes fuel/oil prices.

My colleague Myron Ebell has a few choice words for Senators, who have refused to take votes on two Bills passed by the House that would significantly increase domestic oil and natural gas production (follow the link for the details):

People who are angry about the prices they are paying at the pump should ask some questions while their Senators are home during the August recess.  First, Senator, do you think gas prices are too high?  Second, will you try to do something about it when the Senate returns in September?  Will you demand votes on the two House bills that will help lower gas prices by expanding production in the U. S.?  If the Senate leadership refuses, will you then offer the two House bills as amendments to other bills being considered on the Senate floor?  If your Senator will not agree to do that, then he is not serious about doing something about high gas prices.

Priorities are important.  I fear that when it comes to importance of energy policy, politicians have got the priorities way out of sync with the public.  And remember, the Gore tendency doesn’t think gas prices are high enough, so they win in two ways if gas prices are high or forced higher by other policies.  The very worst thing the President and Congress could do is to help them out on that score.

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