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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Democrats Between A Rock And A Hard Place On Energy Bill

The hard place are the Republicans who want an alternative to the Democrats energy bill, and the Republicans have the majority of the public behind them in wanting to expand offshore drilling.

The rock is that there are many in the Democratic caucus that agree and want to drill where the Republicans want to drill and the Democrats are running so scared of having to vote on the Republican's alternatives, so they simply aren't even scheduling the energy measure for floor action, according to The Hill.

No matter what polls you look at, the majority of the American public agree with the Republicans about drilling here, drilling now.

Reported on June 26, 2008, the InsiderAdvantage/Poll, asks "Do you favor or oppose increased exploration and production of oil and natural gas off the coasts of Florida?”

Favor (61%)
Oppose (32%)
No opinion (7%)

Rasmussen- June 17, 2008: "67% Support Offshore Drilling, 64% Expect it Will Lower Prices."

Zogby- June 26, 2008: "74 percent support offshore oil drilling in U.S."

The Hill, today:

While Democrats were in their districts advocating their plans to end gas price-gouging, rein in speculation, pass “use it or lose it” and even call for President Bush to release millions of barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), Republicans were touting polls showing that a healthy majority of Americans now support increased domestic energy production.

That is proving to be a particular concern for Democrats in that any non-suspension-calendar energy vote would be subject to a Republican alternative, almost certainly calling for offshore and Arctic drilling, that would very likely pass.

“If we could send deepwater drilling over, it would pass the Senate,” said a Republican leadership aide, highlighting just how much an energy vote could backfire on Democrats.

A senior Democratic leadership aide acknowledged this week that there are plenty of members of the majority caucus “who want to drill and want to drill where Republicans want to drill.”

Even if Democratic leaders could beat back a GOP motion on drilling, the vote could be used as political ammunition against their vulnerable members this fall.

The Democratic setbacks come after they scored a political victory this spring when they overwhelmingly passed an SPR bill over initial White House objections. But Republicans now claim they have the upper hand, noting that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is citing drilling repeatedly on the campaign trail.

Further complicating matters for Democrats is the growing number of pro-drilling Democrats who are becoming increasingly worried that voters might throw them in with their anti-drilling leadership.

One pro-drilling Democrat predicted that the backlash against Congress for gas prices could rival the outrage voters felt about the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.

So, when backed into a corner and put between a rock and a hard place, what does the Democratic leadership do?

The simply refuse to even deal with the issue at all and they do not schedule it for any floor action.

One Democratic aide discusses the Democratic leadership's strategy by saying, "Right now, our strategy on gas prices is ‘Drive small cars and wait for the wind"

Yes, that is a good strategy (NOT) to take and they think the public isn't watching and taking notes?

The problem here for the Democrats is very simple....they cannot seem to get out of their own way!

In the meantime, the longer they delay this, the more the conservatives are going to pound their inaction (rightly so) and highlight their refusal to listen to the American public.

Is it any wonder that Congress now holds the lowest confidence rating ever?

Only 12 percent of Americans say they have a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in Congress as an institution – the lowest level ever for any US institution since Gallup began asking the question 35 years ago. Congressional job approval, a slightly different question, has dropped to 18 percent.

(Source: Gallup)

Yes, they are worried about it, just not enough to actually get anything accomplished.