Just before the "Slink Away" Congress made good on its name, a bill proposed by Connecticut's First Congressional District incumbent John Larson, that he claimed would lower oil prices by further regulating the futures market, failed to garner the minimum votes to move to the next step.
In a press conference after his plan went down to flaming defeat, Larson reportedly went on a tear, bashing Congressional Republicans - who are in the minority - and demanding to "cut the cards" to give consumers "a new deal."
Uh-huh. What's that adage - "truer words are said in jest?" Interesting that Larson's first comments after his bill died referred to gambling.
This ladies and gentlemen, is not a time to gamble with unproven theories and half-baked proposals - especially considering we are talking about public safety this winter, not to mention more taxpayer dollars. Larson's bill failed in the House of Representatives because it was ill-conceived and given no chance to succeed in the first place, even by his own party.
According to a media report, in his rant against the minority Republicans, Larson also referred to Congressional testimony suggesting the impact of speculation on gas prices could be anywhere from as little as 10 percent up to 70 percent.
Larson, the Vice Chairman of the Democratic caucus, meaning he is a major mover and shaker and played a leading role in creating the conditions in which our country finds itself, then reportedly said, "Somewhere in between lies the truth. What we're saying is what my grandfather used to say, 'Trust everyone, but cut the cards.'"
I'll bet Larson's grandfather never told him to bet on a hand that had 60 percent possibility of failure.
Larson's bill would have created the position of inspector general for the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, which would have carried with it all the staff, office and expense requirements that piggyback on any new bureaucracy.
"Whether it's 10 percent or 70 percent or somewhere in between, we have a responsibility to make sure we cut the cards, give a new deal to our consumers," Larson said.
Need I remind us all that any game of cards is a game of chance? That no matter how often you cut the cards or re-deal, you do not have a guaranteed outcome unless you are cheating and dealing from the bottom of the deck? That's why so many professional poker players have boom and bust histories, and why card players talk of "hot" and "cold" streaks.
So, what Larson really said is he has no idea what the actual impact of futures trading is on the price of oil, but he doesn't mind making a wild bet if he gets a momentary bounce in the polls, since, what the hell, it isn't his money he's betting with anyway.
Being a good Democrat, and one of the most powerful people in Congress, Larson never misses an opportunity to tout a new bureaucracy. Oh, and somewhere along the way you can bet your bippy that there would be new taxes or fees to pay for this unneeded government expansion.
Prior to the vote on Larson's measure, economists and government officials had testified against it, stating that energy speculators play only a small role in oil markets. Truth be told, if there is a big enough supply, coming from enough diverse sources, speculators won't be pushing up the price because buyers will simply go elsewhere.
Nonetheless, continuing his rant, Larson sputtered that "Republicans remain frozen in their indifference, to the cries and pleas and concerns of people."
Wow! That is a first-class denunciation of those heartless Republicans who keep insisting that increasing supply will decrease prices. That sure told them, said the guy who has consistently voted against any expansion of the domestic oil supply or refining capabilities.
Larson claimed Republicans have one only one solution - "Drill, drill, drill, drill, drill."
Yes, well, that's only partially true because the GOP "mantra" also includes a comprehensive energy policy that emphasizes development of long-term, non-fossil fuel sources, which Larson didn't mention at the press conference.
As for the drill, drill, drill, drill issue, that is because if we drill drill drill, we increase the supply, supply supply, and the prices come down, down, down.
If anyone is indifferent to the cries and pleas of "the people" it is Congressional Democrats who again shut down any chance of opening up domestic petroleum development after Larson's mentor, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, threw a hissy fit during Wednesday's session and stormed off in a huff.
"I'm trying to save the planet!" she screeched as the gavel came crashing down and the majority Democrats took energy resolutions off the agenda.
That was just before the session ended and they hopped into their jet planes and big honking SUVs to go on vacation to far away places where someone else picks up the tab and energy simply is not a concern.
But while Larson and Pelosi are conspiring on how to "save the world" maybe they can get a bit more focused and figure out how to help the elderly homeowners in my community. Folks who are on fixed incomes and at wits end on how to pay for skyrocketing property taxes and food prices, are going to be hit and hit hard in just one month when they turn their attention to filling their oil tanks.
Did I tell you that the Democrats adjourned Congress and went on vacation without addressing the energy issues facing us? You are aware, aren't you, that by the time they come back we will be right on the edge of the fall heating system and people are going to be in a panic when they find out what it costs?
Did you see what happened to oil prices when President Bush ended the executive ban on offshore drilling? Prices went down like a rock.
Did you see what happened when Congress ran away from the issue and didn't vote on anything relevant regarding energy? Oil prices stopped the downward plunge, leveled off and even turned right back around again on occasion. Supply and demand baby, supply and demand, on display on the Fox Business channel for all to see.
Where will Larson and Pelosi be when they return to Congress in September? They'll be talking about raising $10 billion in new taxes - disguised under another name, but new taxes nonetheless - when the last thing we need is more of that. Or pushing the Democratic agenda of a 50 percent increase to the federal gasoline tax. Boy, that will knock the daylights out of any price reduction at the pump!
Sure will show us won't it?
And as far as a "comprehensive energy policy" that Larson has suddenly found so attractive; his opponent Joe Visconti has been pushing that approach ever since the First District Republicans put him up to oppose Larson back in April.
Seems as though the good Congressman is keeping a close watch on his opponent and gambling that the public won't see he isn't coming up with any workable ideas of his own, just appropriating those that Visconti has already thought through and vetted.
John Larson, the face and voice of the US Congress, poster boy for Politics as Usual.
Thursday, July 31, 2008