Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Gingrich's New Gas Bag

Newt Gingrich has come up with a marketing mantra that's almost as compelling as Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan and equally inconsequential. It's called the $2.50 a gallon gasoline promise.

It's an idea that the masses can easily rally around and it explains why Gingrich's hot air balloon is rising again--a little. But if this kind of exhaust is the stuff of all of Newt's "BIG BOLD IDEAS," the best we can hope for if he were elected (fat chance!) is a few more years of Washington breaking wind and all the stench that goes with it while our problems continue to balloon under his blowhardship.

After all, how much direct control does the President have over the price of a gallon of gas or of anything else, for that matter? The truth is, not much. Gas prices, like other commodities are a function of an array of variables--supply and demand, global stability, speculation, refining capacity, product research, development, extraction, and distribution costs, governmental regulation at every level, taxation, even climactic influences, competition, the whims of OPEC and much more.

While the President can influence some of these factors to a small degree, he can no more guarantee a particular price point, like $2.50 a gallon, than Obama could truthfully guarantee that his stimulus would prevent unemployment from topping 8%, or that his healthcare takeover would cost less than a trillion dollars. And we know how well those worked out. Yet somehow, some voters seem as excited to suck up this political flatulence as any kid sucking on a helium balloon--to much the same effect.

The truth is, Newt has no secret sauce to bring down the price of gas. Good energy policy should help; more drilling, the Keystone pipeline, a stable, streamlined regulatory environment, increased refinery capacity, a sound Middle East policy will all help to create energy security for the US and put downward pressure on price. But all the Republican candidates have promised a similar pro-energy approach, so Newt's $2.50 promise is just a clever way of marketing the idea to voters.

Kudos to him for his marketing coups, but let's not get carried away. It won't make him a better President. It's NOT a "BIG IDEA," he's not uniquely capable of bringing it about, and he's definitely not our best bet to beat the guy whose policies are helping to push the price of gas skyward right now. At the end of the day, this is a disingenuous political gimmick--an empty, meaningless promise. More succinctly, a lie. But of course, in Gingrich's view, Mitt is the only prevaricator in this race. So what's that make Newt? You decide. Rationally.

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