17 June 2008

Senator Speak: More Blah, Blah and Less Oompah


If you haven't written your Senator about issues that concern you, please give it a whirl. It's your right as a U.S. citizen and as a voter. After all, these folks work for you.

The gal at the left is my Senator. I lovingly refer to her as "the Bulldog" due to her looks and basically what falls out of her face: blah, blah.

If folks in politics could have more oompah, more action to their words...how different things might be.

So, I wrote to Bulldog about doing something with gas prices. Her response:

----- Original Message ----
From: senator@mikulski.senate.gov
To: webmonkeydc@yahoo.com
Sent: Monday, June 16, 2008 5:58:07 PM
Subject: Responding to your message

Dear Mr. Garner:

Thank you for contacting me about the high price of oil and gasoline. It's nice to hear from you.

Gas prices are putting a tremendous burden on family budgets at a time when they are already stretched. That's why I am an original cosponsor of the Consumer First Energy Act of 2008 (S. 3440).

This legislation would create tough new federal protections to guard against profiteering and market manipulation by oil and gas companies, create a temporary windfall profits tax on oil companies reaping record profits, and prevent commodity traders of U.S. crude oil from routing transactions through off-shore markets to evade speculative limits. This bill would also empower the U.S. Attorney General to bring an enforcement action against OPEC and any country or company that is colluding to set the price of oil, natural gas, or any other petroleum product. Oil companies need to know that we are watching and that price gougers will be caught. People in Maryland and across the country need immediate relief from gasoline price spikes.

Unfortunately, S. 3440 did not receive the necessary votes on June 10th to pass a procedural motion to allow for further debate. However, I will continue to fight for an energy policy that protects consumers and will keep your support for this legislation in mind should it come before the full Senate in the future.

You should also know that I supported an amendment (S.Amdt. 4737) to the Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act (S. 2284) that will suspend the filling of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve through December 2008. This measure will help increase supply and lower prices. The amendment could result in as much as a 5 cent reduction at the gas pump. Similar legislation (H.R. 6022) was passed by the House of Representatives. The two versions of this legislation will need to be reconciled and passed by both chambers before being signed into law by the President.

Since President Bush came to office, gas prices have more than doubled, and big companies have made more than half a trillion dollars in profits and the United States is even more dependent on oil. Gas prices in Maryland have increased by $2.18 per gallon, an increase of 153 percent. The Department of Energy estimates that families, businesses and farmers in Maryland will spend $464 million more on gasoline in May 2008 than they spent in January 2001.

Again, thanks for contacting me. If I can be of further assistance, please feel free to get in touch with me again.Sincerely, Barbara A. MikulskiUnited States Senator P.S. If I can be of further assistance in the future,please visit my website at http://mikulski.senate.gov/or call my Washington D.C. office at 202-224-4654
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Nice. A warm, fuzzy, and informative note that took a dive at the end. I had to respond to her note. Will she and will it be more Democrat blah, blah?

So, my response:

Senator Mikulski,

Thank you for your reply and information. I would've respected your email more if you hadn't added the remark about President Bush near the end. Your inference that his being office has assisted gas prices to rise brings another point to mind: While everyone is focused on President Bush's approval ratings being low (around 25%*)...the approval rating of Congress is lower (around 13%**)

Why? You'll likely disagree with me but I feel it's because Democrats expressed such great change and issued so many promises into coming into power. Many of those promises haven't come to fruition. While blame wishes to be placed on President Bush and his administration, many of our issues today are inherited from the poor decisions of President's Clinton's administration. Every admin has successes and failures and more often the next admin inherits those successes and those failures.

I also recall the then Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on April 19, 2006, mentioning, "Democrats have a plan to lower gas prices…join Democrats who are working to lower gas prices now.”
Democrats have been in power with promises of lower prices...yet prices keeping going up.
Let's start drilling in our own backyard and off shore to ease the burden. Offshore drilling bans have been in place since 1981, but Democrats have repeatedly blocked such attempts on the basis of environmental concerns.

Enough is enough. Stop blocking efforts and at least make a compromise on the drilling issue. We all want to be green and protect the environment and resources. Since we have a majority of automobiles requiring gasoline and diesel to operate, we should make some serious compromises that'll better everyone!

Rick Garner
Columbia, MD

*CBS Poll 5/30 - 6/3/08
**NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll 6/6 - 6/9/08