Unless the House acts today, it will be the first time since the 1950s that lawmakers left for August recess without passing a single appropriations bill. It took one issue to bring the appropriations process to a screeching halt: energy. Instead of allowing even a single debate or vote on the issue, the liberals who control Congress have shut down all work on setting spending priorities for the federal government. Explaining why she refuses to allow a vote on expanded offshore drilling Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Politico: “I’m trying to save the planet; I’m trying to save the planet.” Good for the planet. But who will save the U.S. economy from high energy prices?
The most important thing to remember as the House begins its five-week vacation is that liberals want high energy prices. Praising Pelosi’s planet-saving efforts, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman reminds readers that just two months ago liberals in Congress were trying to pass a massive new energy tax: “After all, a cap-and-trade system would in effect be a tax on carbon, and really would raise energy prices.” Sen. Barack Obama is also committed to keeping American energy prices high. When asked by CNBC’s John Harwood if high energy costs were good for the United States, Obama replied: “I think that I would have preferred a gradual adjustment.”
But not all liberals are as indifferent to the economic suffering of Americans as Obama, Pelosi and Krugman. The San Francisco Chronicle reports: “Even some Democrats are getting antsy, fearing the party’s stance could hurt them in the fall elections.” Indeed, over the past month, more and more liberals are moving away from Pelosi’s hard line against all new domestic energy production. The list includes Reps. Tim Holden (D-Pa.) and Steve Kagan (D-Wis.), House candidate Dina Titus (D-Nev.) and Sens. Jim Webb (D-Va.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). In fact, just yesterday, more than a dozen House Democrats broke with Pelosi and voted with conservatives to keep the House in session to debate the energy crisis.
As columnist Charles Krauthammer explains today, the liberal effort to shut down domestic oil production is a boon to oil-rich depots throughout the world: “There are a dizzying number of economic and national security arguments for drilling at home: a $700 billion oil balance-of-payments deficit, a gas tax (equivalent) levied on the paychecks of American workers and poured into the treasuries of enemy and terror-supporting regimes, growing dependence on unstable states of the Persian Gulf and Caspian basin.” But there is still hope. Yesterday Pelosi said lifting oil domestic oil production bans could “have a place” in “the bigger picture of things.” Now Pelosi’s office immediately issued a statement showing she had not changed her position, but clearly there is hope that she will.
- Five American troops died in July as a result of combat in Iraq, by far the lowest monthly U.S. death toll of the five-year war.
- Russia plans to form a state grain trading company to control up to half of the country’s cereal exports, intensifying fears that Moscow wants to use food exports as a diplomatic weapon in the same way as Gazprom has manipulated natural gas sales.
- President Hugo Chávez said he intends to nationalize the Bank of Venezuela, which is owned by the Santander banking group of Spain. Under Chávez, Venezuela has nationalized its largest telephone, electricity, steel and cement companies and has assumed majority control over four major oil projects.
- Due to public employee union strength, new employees and higher compensation are set to raise state and local government spending above $2 trillion for the first time in 2008 — about 13% of the nation’s gross domestic product.
- Sen. Barack Obama, who spoke to an adoring crowd of 200,000 in Berlin last week, has already received twice as much money from foreign sources as President Bush and Sen. John Kerry did combined in all of 2004.