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Goosing the Gas

The incoherence and attempted demagoguery of the beseiged Republican Party are becoming impossible to overstate. Witness the latest Big Idea on dealing with gas prices, unveiled last week by Senate GOP Leader Bill Frist: mailing $100 checks to 100 million Americans to help them fill up at the pump this summer. Check in with your favorite economist and ask him or her about the genius of this "plan." It basically involves borrowing 10 billion smackers--yes, 10 billion--and tossing it into the marketplace to subsidize higher gas prices. The Frist "plan," of course, isn't intended to do anything serious about rising gas prices. Its rationale is purely political: buying votes just before the midterm elections. There are plenty of bad ideas bouncing around Washington right now about gas prices. As the Progressive Policy Institute's Jan Mazurek explained last week, all the frantic casting-about for a short term response to higher gas prices ignores, and in some cases cuts directly against, the long-term solutions that the Bush administration and Congress have been rejecting over the last five-and-a-half years, especially a serious effort to build fuel-efficient and cleaner cars. The world's insatiable lust for oil isn't going to go away any time soon, and the only sure way to keep petroleum prices from wrecking our economy and wrecking family budgets is to reduce our dependence on this perilous energy source. Throwing money at every gas pump in America is a worse than unserious proposal.
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