Offense Is Better Than Defense

House Republican leaders have decided to go on offense on an issue that has resonance with the American people: gas prices. Rather than tie themselves in knots on an issue of dubious value, earmarks, they have decided to strike hard and fast against the Democratic Congress’s inability to act to bring down the price of gas.

The Republicans have some vulnerability on the issue, chiefly the fact that President Bush and Vice President Cheney are so closely associated with the oil industry. But the Democrats are even more vulnerable.

The fact that House Democrats have such a long record of opposing domestic production of oil and gas will be exploited time and again by House Republicans.

In fact, over the last decade, more than 90 percent of Republicans have voted to expand domestic energy production, while over that same time period, about the same percentage of Democrats have voted against those efforts.

You can expect Al Gore’s face to play a prominent role in the debate. After all, Gore has consistently called for higher carbon taxes and a sharp increase in the gas tax. Gore believes that only higher gas prices can save the planet from certain destruction. Well, welcome to Al Gore’s world.

Barack Obama’s call for a windfall profits tax will help House Republicans as well. The last time we had a windfall profits tax, Jimmy Carter was president. The result was gas rationing, long lines at the pump, higher prices and a sharp shift to overseas production. One reason we are so dependent on foreign oil is thanks to Jimmy Carter.

The Democrats are so good at feeling your pain because in large measure they have created it.

In the House, you can expect Republicans to offer a series of discharge petitions that will highlight different ways that they would help increase domestic production and encourage more refining capacity. They will put heavy pressure on Blue Dog Democrats (who have many constituents who drive pickup trucks and don’t have access to public transportation) to break with their leadership. Many of these Blue Dogs, facing heat from home, will sign the discharge petition and the House Democratic leadership will be forced to act.

This is called going on offense. It is a great strategy, and House Republican leaders deserve a hand for creating it.


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