March 5, 2012
By Herman Cain
When George W. Bush left office, gasoline was less than $2 a gallon.
When Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the House, it was $1.13 a gallon.
Today, it’s inching toward $4 a gallon. Remember when Democrats used to
blame Bush for what they said were “high” gas prices because he and his
Texas oil buddies were all in cahoots or something?
No politician is to “blame” for the price of a global commodity.
Contrary to what a lot of people think – and what the media leads you to
believe – the president of the United States does not “micro-manage”
the price of goods.
But on a larger scale, government policy can affect both supply and
demand, and when government energy policy becomes exceedingly ridiculous
– as it is now – it’s no surprise that we start paying excessive prices
at the pump.
Federal policy today is about as unfriendly to energy independence as it
has ever been. We put severe restrictions on domestic oil drilling
(both on- and off-shore), on the operation of refineries and even on the
distribution of existing gasoline supplies. We rely heavily on
unfriendly nations like Venezuela, and on Middle Eastern nations who may
not be enemies per se but are certainly not our close allies.
Even a proposed pipeline allowing us to buy oil directly from friendly Canada has been met with presidential opposition.
And the worst thing of all, as Energy Secretary Steven Chu admitted last
week, is that the Obama Administration doesn’t care that all these
policies drive up gas prices. They want gas prices high! Chu said in
2008 that he wishes we were more like Europe, where they pay much higher
prices than we do in order to force conservation. Straining the family
budget is not conservation, it’s dumb.
When you have policies like this, it doesn’t leave much that anyone can
do to make a positive difference. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) wants
to ask the Saudis to increase production to help us out. That’s what
you’re reduced to when you refuse to maximize our own energy resources –
begging sheikhs, emirs and princes for favors.
Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada) wants the Commodities Trading Commission to
do an investigation. Are you kidding me? The rest of the Democrats just
keep blaming the oil companies and Bush, as if it wouldn’t be nice to
have gas prices back where they were when Bush left office.
There are, however, things we can do. I was campaigning with Newt
Gingrich last week when he unveiled a plan that can bring gas prices
back down to $2.50 a gallon. Newt’s plan is bold, even though it mainly
consists of common-sense measures that recognize the principles of
supply and demand.
Newt’s plan would:
• Remove bureaucratic and legal obstacles to responsible oil and natural
gas development in the United States, off shore and on land.
• End the ban on oil shale development in the American West, where shale
gives us the potential to produce three times the amount of oil as
• Give coastal states federal royalty revenue-sharing, so they will have an incentive to allow off-shore development.
• Reduce frivolous lawsuits that hold up energy production by enacting
loser-pays laws. That way, if someone files a frivolous environmental
lawsuit and loses, the plaintiff will have to pay all legal costs for
the other side. That will make a lot of people think twice before
abusing the legal system.
• Use new oil and gas royalties to finance cleaner energy research and
projects. For some reason, Democrats act as if we have to choose between
oil and alternative sources of energy. That’s ridiculous. The answer to
our energy needs is all of the above.
• Get rid of the Environmental Protection Agency, which does nothing but
drive up energy prices and kill jobs, and establish a new Environmental
Solutions Agency. The new agency would use positive incentives, and
would work cooperatively with local government and industry to achieve
better environmental outcomes. The idea is to meet both our energy needs
and important environmental standards, rather than constantly going to
war against energy on behalf of the environment, which is what the EPA
This can be done. Newt’s $2.50 plan is as bold as my 9-9-9 tax code
replacement plan. But first we need leaders who think energy
independence matters, and is worth achieving. We don’t have leaders like
that now, which you should remember the next time you pay way more than
$2.50 a gallon for a tank of gas.
It doesn’t have to be that way.