August 19, 2008 | Commentary on Economic Mobility
For conservatives who have the stomach to monitor Congress, the 110th Congress has been especially unsatisfactory. Real Clear Politics has Congress with an average approval rating of 20% and a disapproval rating of 74%, strong evidence that the American people are nauseated with Congress.
Conservatives are angry because members of Congress do not have an appetite for a pro-active comprehensive conservative agenda for change. Remember the Contract with America? It worked, but evidently conservatives have a short memory. Real legislative achievements have been rare and liberals in Congress are in the process of starving the Bush Administration while anticipating a potential feeding frenzy if they capture the White House and both houses of Congress. It's instructive to look back at what Congress failed to put away in the past 20 months.Gas Prices
Gas prices still hover at close to $4 a gallon and Congress has yet to pass legislation to open up more domestic production of oil or take any other significant measures to lower the price of gas at the pump. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York) and Senator John McCain (R-Az.) proposed a gas tax holiday for the summer, and that was panned by many as a gimmick. A permanent elimination of the federal gas tax, currently 18.4 cents per gallon, and a shifting of responsibility to the states to maintain highways and collect revenue would be one reform that would reduce prices at the pump.
The most important factor that is keeping gas prices high at the pump is the simple law of supply and demand. Supply, which is decreasing domestically, is not keeping up with increased world demand. House Republicans have been staging a historic protest in the House chamber of high gas prices since 11:20 a.m. on August 1. The American people are making it clear they want to see more domestic production of oil. Congress has the power to take the following action before the end of the year to reduce prices at the pump:
Conservatives want the historic protest by House Republicans to
produce a gas price reduction at the pump.
Heath care is expensive, and there are conservative proposals that would reduce prices for every American -- if Congress has the will for dramatic change. If Congress were serious about addressing health care, it should fix the inequitable tax treatment for the purchase of private health insurance.
Today, Americans who get coverage through their employer get an unlimited tax break. But there is no comparable tax break for those who buy their coverage outside their place of work. Congress should level the playing field and, at the very least, provide families that don't have employer-based coverage tax relief for the purchase of private health insurance. Even in the controversial SCHIP debate, Congress could find middle ground by offering middle and lower income families tax relief to help them buy private coverage for their kids.Nuclear Energy
Brian Darling is director of U.S. Senate Relations at The Heritage Foundation
First appeared in Human Events