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April 24, 2006

And Now for the Other End of Pennsylvania Avenue

Guess which members of Congress wrote this letter:

April 24, 2006

The President
The White House
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. President:

In the wake of unprecedented increases in worldwide demand for gasoline, particularly in China and India, coupled with other factors, American consumers are facing record prices for gasoline at the pump. Anyone who is trying to take advantage of this situation while American families are forced into making tough choices over whether to fill up their cars or severely cut back their budgets should be investigated and prosecuted. Therefore, we believe that Federal law enforcement agencies and regulators should take every available step to ensure that all Federal laws protecting American consumers from price-fixing, collusion, gouging and other anti-competitive practices are vigorously enforced.

We respectfully request that you direct the Attorney General and the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission to investigate any potential collusion, price-fixing or gouging in the sale or distribution of gasoline, petroleum distillates or ethanol in wholesale and retail markets. We further request that scrutiny be directed to refining, the transportation of fuel by pipelines, marine vessels and trucks, storage and marketing activities and retail practices to determine if there is any unlawful manipulation of the price of gasoline. Sweeps of retail distribution centers should be undertaken to ensure that retail price movements are in response to a change in market conditions and not price gouging. Finally, we recommend that the Federal Trade Commission examine whether spot shortages of gasoline are the result of illegal efforts to manipulate prices.

Ted Kennedy? nope
Chuck Schumer? nope
How about Bernie Sanders? sorry, try again.

Give up? Read on:

Given the severity of the current situation regarding gas prices, we believe that the Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission should devote all necessary resources to expedited review of complaints of price gouging against wholesalers or retailers of gasoline and other distillates.

Additionally, we request that you direct the Chairman of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission to bring heightened scrutiny to the trading of energy futures and derivatives to determine whether spikes in prices of oil, gasoline and other petroleum distillates are a result of improper market manipulation by traders or by energy firms.

We believe that protecting American consumers in these unprecedented market conditions is of paramount importance. We know that you share these goals. Consistent with our constitutional authority, we will ask the committees of jurisdiction to conduct oversight of these important questions.

Sincerely,

The Honorable Dennis Hastert The Honorable Bill Frist
Speaker Majority Leader

Unbelieveable.

No, they couldn't recommend something sensible like reducing onerous enviromental regulations so that new refineries could be built, or push for drilling in ANWAR or off the coast of Florida, or even propose some new program to convince Americans that driving a huge SUV with one person in it to work is not the smartest move (readers will note that I did not call for CAFE regulations).

Carterism, here we come, courtesy of the Congressional Republicans.

Can We Fire Congress?

Rich Lowry asks if we can fire Congress:

This oil thing is, needless to say, idiotic. But it points to a larger issue: the GOP problem at the moment is by no means limited to the White House, as folks on Capitol Hill would have it, but very much includes Congress. Bush can get himself a top-notch White House staff firing on all cylinders and consulting like crazy with Congress, but if Capitol Hill is still run by what often seems a bunch of bungling, spend-thrift, unreformable, tin-eared, unimaginative, hysterical pols, not much is going to change.

Take the opportunity the House had with the selection of John Boehner as majority leader. He was a relative fresh face to most of the public, even if, obviously, not a stranger to K Street. What came of this departure? Very little. Did the GOP take advantage of the moment to institute some serious ethics and earmarks reforms? Of course not. Now, in this moment of political crisis, over in the senate the GOP has come up with the $700 million "railway to nowhere," just in time to remind conservatives why they are so dispirited, if they had by any chance forgotten. Then there's the immigration charade, with the GOP unable press what should be--given public opinion--their advantage on the issue and unable to exploit Democratic divisions on it.

On top of all this, they are running pell-mell from Bush with no or little purpose beyond pure panic, when Bush is more actually more popular than they are (Bush's approval is at 33%, Congress' at 25%; Bush's approval rating is 66% among Republicans, Congress' is at 28%). So tell me: Which end of Pennsylvania Avenue is most in need of a shake-up?

We've only got 6 months to turn things around. My only consolation at this point is that the Democrats would be worse.

Posted by Tom at April 24, 2006 9:30 PM

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Comments

I was so put off by Republicans spending my money as much as Democrats, that I'm running for the Iowa Senate.

Posted by: Doug Halsted at April 25, 2006 1:52 PM

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