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Sunday, April 30, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM



Idling away the gas-price crisis

Fast-rising gas prices are prompting President Bush and Congress to fall over one another with shortsighted ideas for dealing with the crisis.

The Democrats' earlier idea to offer $500 rebates to taxpayers to compensate for soaring prices is dumber (only by $400) than the Republicans' idea for $100 rebates for the same purpose. A government with uncontrolled deficit spending can ill afford to dole out feel-good happy checks. Taxpayers receiving those checks would know government would be spending money it doesn't have.

Republicans try to capitalize on rising gas prices by pushing once again — when do they stop? — for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It is not smart to make long-term strategy for a relatively small amount of oil amid a price crisis.

The $100 rebate is included in the same proposal that includes drilling in ANWR. Are we really going to buy public policy by offering motorists a C-note in exchange for fouling a pristine wilderness?

Hold the line. No drilling in ANWR.

Congress looks increasingly estranged from the individuals it represents. Last week, members of Congress headed to a press conference at a Washington, D.C., gas station about rising prices and proved once again they live in ivory towers.

Several drove, rather than walked, the few blocks to the gas station in gas-guzzling SUVs.

The same day, House Republicans were meeting in caucus about — guess what? — gas prices, while the House driveway was jammed with cars, many idling, including eight Chevrolet Suburbans that get only14 miles to the gallon.

The gas crisis is real. Lawmakers have to practice what they preach and craft long-term proposals that make a real difference. Start with a serious look at alternative fuels and higher mileage standards.

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