Thursday, April 27, 2006

Gas prices

President Bush eased environmental regulations on gasoline and called for more tax cuts for energy companies. One of the ways government increases the price of gasoline is through environmental regulations, so this was a good move by the President.

Rush Limbaugh made some very interesting observations on his program yesterday. It has been well documented that gas prices are actually lower than they were twenty five years ago when you adjust for inflation. That is not to say that higher gas prices do not cause pain for families and businesses, but it is important to keep gas prices in perspective.

An important factor to consider is the taxes on gasoline that contribute to the price. Limbaugh said that New York calculates its tax on gasoline by the dollar rather than by the gallon as is traditional. This means when gas prices spike, state government in new york can count on windfall profits.

Democrats are calling for President Bush to do something about the high gas prices. I would like to see the Democrats articulate exactly what the President is supposed to do about it. Should he implement price controls, as President Nixon did? Should there be investigations into the prices in case there is price fixing going on?

It is interesting that the same Leftists who are complaining about high gas prices just when it is politically expedient have forgotten all about those on the Left who have actually argued for higher gas prices. Some on the Left have lamented that we pay significantly less than people do in Europe, where taxes are much higher. Are gas prices good for the environment because they encourage more research into alternative fuels?

Political squabbles over gas prices produce a lot of heat but not very much light. I think Republicans have a potentially winning issue here if only they articulate how government contributes to the high price of gas and advocate market-based solutions to lowering the prices. After all, you cannot score a touchdown if you're not in offense. Unfortunately, I think those market based solutions that Republicans seemed so fond of in 1994 have been out of style for a long time.