Attention Gang Of 16: Stop Negotiating & Accept Victory

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by Gary Gross

The more I read about the Democrats' divisions on drilling, the more I'm inclined to believe that the Gang of 16 is actually negotiating against themselves. There's an article in Roll Call that encapsulates why Senate Republicans should respectfully decline to meet the Democrats' demands. Here's what jumped off the page at me:

House Natural Resources Chairman Nick Rahall (D-WVA) also acknowledged that Democrats don't have the votes to pass a continuing resolution that would retain the offshore drilling ban. Rahall said that if it expired, drilling would be allowed as close as three miles to shore.

First, some important process-related information. Continuing resolutions must originate in the House of Representatives. If Democrats can't pass a CR that extends the drilling ban, the die will have been cast before it reaches the Senate.

This is important for this reason: If Democrats can't pass a CR with a drilling ban in it, they'll have to pass one that lets the moratoria lapse. That means that President Bush wouldn't have to veto a CR. That means Democrats can't accuse President Bush of shutting down the government. If the government shuts down, it'll place the burden squarely on Nancy Pelosi's shoulders.

That's huge because a government shutdown would happen just a month before the elections. Does anyone seriously think that Democrats would benefit from shutting down the government in opposition to lifting the moratoria that 70 percent of Americans want lifted a month before going to the polls?

If Speaker Pelosi were that foolish, she'd cause a House GOP landslide.

That's just one reason why the Gang of 16 negotiating with Senate Democrats isn't smart strategy. Here's another explanation why it isn't wise:

The bill would open up a tiny little smidgen of space on the Outer Continental Shelf for oil and gas exploration, just enough that Democrats who vote for it can claim to be pro-drilling, neutralizing one of the Republicans' most energizing issues going into the November elections. But the benefits of the bill's meager drilling provisions would be negated (and then some) by $30 billion in tax hikes on U.S. oil companies, placing our own domestic producers at an additional disadvantage compared to their overseas competitors. In exchange for very little new supply, these companies would pay higher taxes related to the crucial activities of exploration and refinery-capacity expansion. To nobody's great surprise, the industry is not eager to accept this trade.

Read the rest of this piece at Let Freedom Ring Blog

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