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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Who Wins and Loses When Gas Prices Skyrocket?

It's not every day that Karl Rove gets a lesson in politics. But the President's ace strategist was brought up sharply at a recent White House meeting with a group of Republican congressional-staff chiefs when he suggested that the best approach to soaring gasoline prices was this: wait. There's no immediate fix available, so let the market work its magic, Rove said. The stratospheric pricing will reduce demand soon enough, and $3-per-gal. gas will be a memory by summer. It's basic economics.
And, if you're a Republican politician facing a re-election challenge in November, it's basic insanity. Rove should be the last person in America to have to be told that textbook economics isn't taking the campaign trip this summer with political reality. Not in a country where the right to drive 70 m.p.h. in a 55-m.p.h. zone while getting 15 m.p.g. is part of the national vehicular patrimony. The voters are getting incensed every time they drop $75 to fill their SUVs and pickups while oil companies tote up record earnings. "What upsets me more than anything is the Democrats and Republicans keep pointing fingers," says insurance salesman Bob Morris, 59, of Palestine, Texas, whose weekly gas bill for his Camry has risen to $75. "Now I'm at the point, whoever's in office, I'm ready to vote 'em out."


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