Sunday, April 30, 2006

Idiot season

No matter how cynical one is about politics - and I try to set the bar high for myself - it's hard not to get trumped every day of the week. You can't keep up with these guys.

Okay, gasoline prices are way up. What do you expect when Iraq is in flames and Iran will be nuked if Karl Rove concludes that this will pay off electorally in November.

But not to worry, the Democrats have a great plan. Let's suspend the gasoline tax for six months. If the U.S. has monopsony power in the world marketplace, this amounts to saying: let's take the money out of the U.S. government's hands and make sure that foreign governments or oil companies get it instead. Or, if the price does moderate, it says: let's make sure the price signals don't get through and start changing American energy behavior. We wouldn't want to start reducing our international economic vulnerability, after all.

Senator Frist's office, whether or not stupider, is at least funnier. Our friend the timely-trading video diagnostician wants to start mailing out $100 checks to people. No need even to own a car for this one. And the deep thinking behind it is almost as rich as the proposal itself. From today's New York Times:

"David Winston, a Republican pollster who advises the Senate Republican leadership, called the rebate an intuitive way to show voters that Republicans were on their side. 'It is like putting the American family budget ahead of oil company profits, Mr. Winston said. "'How do you help the American families out? Well, give them some money.'"

Not TOO far ahead of oil company profits, however, given that American families are paying for their own checks through the increased fiscal gap. And what's more, the rebate is merely "the signature element of a broader Senate Republican leadership plan announced Thursday that included new incentives for the oil industry to increase its refining capacity and ... would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to drilling."

At a certain point there's really nothing left to say.

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