Monday, December 19, 2005

Republican of the Week: Ted Stevens

Way to go, Senator Stevens.

Republicans are finally moving on some of their priorities and responding to the dems win-at-all-costs strategy. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska is a national park the size of South Carolina. Republicans want to issue leases to energy companies to open up an area the size of Dulles International Airport for development to extract crude oil form the potentially largest oil field in North America. The leases would provide an estimated $10 billion to both the state of Alaska and the federal government and provide approximately 5% of domestic supply for the next twenty years. An ANWR drilling provision has not been able to pass the senate on its own accord although an overwhelming majority of Alaskans favor drilling, there is no credible environmental or ecological threat from drilling and it would provide a substantial boost to domestic energy production; but...surprise! Democrats oppose it because Republicans want it.

ANWR drilling can't pass because the minority party is unified in opposition and has successfully used a filibuster to block any form of drilling authorization. Earlier this year, Republicans stuck a provision in the budget reconciliation bill that cannot be filibustered. However, there were enough other controversial cuts in the bill that adding ANWR drilling threatened to bring too many House Republicans to a 'no' vote.

Now, Ted Stevens, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, inserted an ANWR drilling provision into the conference report on the DoD spending bill for FY2006. He had to bend a few rules to do it, and it wasn’t pretty. It’s not good governance, but it echoes the democratic strategy of win-at-all-costs (i.e. threatening a Supreme Court nomination filibuster, half of the caucus voting ‘no’ to one of the highest qualified Supreme Court candidates ever, ludicrous and unfounded statements about the war in Iraq). The House passed the DoD spending bill over the weekend and the Senate will pass it this week.

The democrats are right that the inclusion of the ANWR provision isn't an ideal parliamentary move. However, no matter how much the dems want America to lose in Iraq, they won't be filibustering a defense bill that provides salaries to military personnel during a war.

Steven’s explanation for including it in DoD that ANWR is a national security concern is almost as flimsy as calling a troop withdrawal from Iraq a 'redeployment'. I think it's better to come out and say what everyone knows: this is good for the country, but obstructionists across the aisle prevent it from passing in any other form. So it's in the bill.

At the same time, the dems opposition to this provision has an equally unprincipled defense. They claim extra provisions shouldn’t be added to the DoD spending bill. But are they objecting to the extra Katrina relief and extra LIHEAP (Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program) in the bill? If dems are really that incensed about a funding bill for troops being used as a vehicle for extraneous proposals, they'd oppose that. Alas, they're simply unprincipled sheeple that only unite in opposition.

Side note: I’ll send a bottle of wine to anyone who can tell me a single novel policy recommendation from their unified caucus. As much talk as there is about a '94 revolution, they don't have agreement on a single issue, much less a ten-reform platform such as the Contract with America. Regardless of whether the Contract won the elections for republicans, the sole apt comparison between 1994 and 2006 is the self-defeat of the incumbent majority party, which Ted Stevens is acting to reverse.

That’s why he is the Republican of the week.

The addition of the ANWR drilling provision isn’t pretty, but it will get the job done. It’s time to take off the gloves and break their blind obstructionism. Dems backed themselves into this corner and it's about time the Republican Party responded to the ever more hysterical tactics of the opposition. Merry Christmas, big oil.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to remind these unhinged dems that it is perfectly legal to voluntarily pay the filling station more for gas or to donate a few dollars from every tank you buy to the governments of Iran and Syria. I’ll provide you with a postal addresses if you send me an email.

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