By Newt Gingrich
Last week, liberals in Congress voted for the equivalent of a $150 billion tax increase. They voted to make your next trip to the gas station more expensive; to make your next airplane ticket more expensive; to make heating your home more expensive -- even to make feeding your family more expensive.
How did they do it? By voting to block environmentally sound production of U.S. energy in favor of continuing to be held hostage to oil from foreign dictatorships. I'll explain in a minute.
My Dad, Your Dad, and the Importance of History
First, I want to talk about my dad, your dad, and the importance of history.
My dad was a career army officer, and it's no exaggeration to say that he is responsible for the path I've taken in my life. When I was fifteen, Dad took me to visit the battlefield at Verdun, in France. It was the bloodiest battle of World War I, one of the bloodiest wars of the 20th century. As I came to understand the tremendous destructiveness of the battle -- and the distinct possibility that its outcome could have been different -- I knew that I would devote the rest of my life to standing between civilization and the madness of places like Verdun.
So in a very real way it's my father that I'm thinking about when I write my novels (with co-author and historian William Forstchen) of "active" or alternative history. My latest, the second in our Pacific War series, entitled Days of Infamy, is now out. As Father's Day approaches and you think about your father, consider a signed Days of Infamy or Pearl Harbor as a gift. They're exciting and informative looks at an important part of our history.
"A Vote That Would Make a Difference in People's Lives"
Who's to blame for our high gas prices? The oil companies? The Saudis? OPEC? The answer, unfortunately, is closer to home: The "No-We-Can't" Left in Congress.
Last Thursday, with oil at $124 a barrel, liberals on the Senate Appropriations committee voted to block environmentally sound development of oil shale in Colorado.
According to the Investors Business Daily there are an estimated 1 trillion barrels of oil trapped in shale in the U.S. and Canada. Retrieving just a tenth of it would quadruple our current oil reserves.
But the "No-We-Can't" Left in Congress -- as they're prone to do -- said no, and Americans will pay the price. Colorado Senator Wayne Allard (R) put it best when he said: "If we are really serious about reducing pain at the pump, this is a vote that would make a difference in people's lives."
Saudi Arabia Did More Last Week to Lower Gas Prices Than Congress Did
The Left just doesn't seem to get it. They spent much of last week ridiculing the President for visiting Saudi Arabia in an effort to lower oil prices. Here's what Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on Friday:
"The president seems to value his friendship with the Saudis more than his obligation to help the American people with gas prices."
But what Senator Schumer doesn't seem to understand is that the Saudis did more last week to lower oil prices than liberals in Congress did.
While liberals were voting to prevent domestic production from oil shale, the Saudis, following President Bush's visit, agreed to boost their oil output by 300,000 barrels a day. It won't fix the problem, but at least it won't make it worse, which is exactly what liberals in Congress did last week.
As Americans, we all need to ask ourselves the following: Which is it -- the Congress or Saudi Arabia -- that has a greater obligation to ease our energy prices? And which is the greater obstacle to energy independence and security?
The Left's Answer: More Pain, Not More Production
As I mentioned, the higher energy prices Americans are paying are the equivalent of a huge tax increase. One economist calculated that the price of oil rising from $80 a barrel to $100 a barrel had the same effect on Americans' pocket books as a $150 billion tax increase -- and the price of oil has risen an additional $27 since then!
So how is it that the liberals in Congress, faced with an opportunity like the one last week to lessen this burden on Americans, could reject it without a second thought?
Once again, the answer seems to boil down to three little words: "No we can't."
Change Jimmy Carter Can Believe In
Campaigning in Oregon last week, Senator Barack Obama seemed to forget his campaign theme of "Yes We Can," telling his fellow Americans that more pain -- not more production -- is the answer. He responded to a question about America's role in reducing global energy consumption like this:
"We can't tell [other countries], don't grow. We can't -- drive our SUVs and you know, eat as much as we want and keep our homes on you know, 72 degrees at all times, and whether we're living in the desert or we're living in the tundra, and then just expect that every other country's going to say OK."
I have two reactions to this.
First, I'm used to my doctor telling me I can't eat as much as I want, but it sounds eerie coming from a politician. Is the "No We Can't" Left planning to ban the buffet line as well?
Second, and more importantly, telling the next generation of Americans that they can't have the lifestyle that their parents enjoy is defeatist and wrong. It is a rejection of the energy, optimism and innovation that has made this nation great.
It's also all too similar to President Carter in February of 1977 when he called the energy shortage "permanent" and called on Americans to turn their thermostat down to "65 degrees in the daytime and 55 degrees at night."
Of course, the energy shortage was anything but permanent. Just like today, it was an artificial creation of stupid government policies. Ronald Reagan's first official act as President was to deregulate the oil industry. Oil prices dropped soon after.
I guess "Yes We Can" only applies to reenacting the Jimmy Carter presidency.
Americans Can Control Our Own Energy Destiny
Our energy and environment challenges are real. But America has the technological know-how and the entrepreneurial spirit to overcome them. And, as I pointed out last week, Americans overwhelmingly support more domestic production of energy to help ease gas prices.
We -- not the Saudis or the oil companies -- control our energy future. We just need the political will to do so.
High energy prices aren't theoretical, they have real consequences for real people. The answer, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, isn't easy, but it's simple -- so simple it could fit on a bumper sticker:
For information on how you can help, click here.
P.S. -- In another step toward judicial dictatorship, the California Supreme Court ruled last week to overturn the will of the California voters and legalize same-sex marriage. Four justices ruled to create a right to same-sex marriage in the California Constitution and in doing so overruled the will of 4,618,673 California voters (61 percent) who voted to limit marriage to one man and one woman in 2000. That's the bad news. The good news is that there is already an initiative to overturn the ruling on the November ballot in California. It should be supported. Redefining marriage is too big an issue to be left to four judges.
P.P.S. -- An innovative program in Atlanta that gives students a financial incentive to be tutored in math and science is showing real results. Jackie Cushman, one of the founders of the "Learn and Earn" Program and my daughter, tells the stories of 34 students whose lives are being changed here. I'm very proud of her.
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