Obama and Congress: Get it Together

The news – on the net, in the morning paper, on television – always gives you pause.

I just walked down to the corner on my way to get coffee, and even that gave me pause. We have an Exxon station on Calvert Street there, which is usually a pretty good barometer of just how far oil companies will push the envelope on prices. For months, the station’s price for regular stayed steady at $4.05 per gallon, which was still about 30 cents or so higher than everywhere else in the region. Still, that little sign didn’t move a half cent until last week. That’s when it jumped to something like $4.25. Yesterday it went up an- other ten cents. Seriously?

The jump reflects a sudden surge and spike in gas prices nationwide, with the average pushing toward $3.70 or $3.80 by yesterday. Some media types are reporting prices above five bucks in California, which is a good bellwether state for bad news these days. All sorts of reasons have been given for this surge, which usually doesn’t start until the summer travel bug bites everyone. Now gasoline prices are biting everyone. Experts—who knows who they are—say it’s the Chinese buying up all the oil, after first hacking into all our corporate websites. They say it’s refinery repair costs, Russia, the turmoil in the Middle East, that it’s, I don’t know, Lindsay Lohan or Charlie Sheen and the decline of the Western World. These things would appear to be signals of trouble in the oil industry, and I’d go along with that, except for one thing. Whatever quarterly earnings reports come out on Exxon, Shell, BP and the rest, they’re going to come in under the heading of “record prof- its reported.” Just like they have before. If those profits come from the record prices at the pump, then something’s rotten in Denmark. Given that the U.S. economy is still sluggish, jobs are tough to find, grocery prices are going up, and you know what’s coming up March 1, shouldn’t our venerable oil folks take a little break from those record profits—at the expense of people who can’t afford to give them—and do something patriotic like keep the prices where they are (or were they were last week)? Just saying.

Speaking of sequestering, it’s enough to make you spit.

The media dutifully reported that 31 percent of American folks polled blamed the president, and 49 percent blamed the Republican congress. Wasn’t sequestering—proposed by the president and approved by the same congress – supposed to avoid this? Now, both sides are blaming and predicting catastrophe—lost government and defense jobs, a weakened U.S. defense and military, furloughs, hits to public safety, a crippling of a slowly improving economy. No one will be able to afford the next incarnation of iPad or Chilean sea bass at Whole Foods or a ride on the Metro. If all this— the sky already fell in Siberia last week—is going to happen, shouldn’t both the administration and congress get their heads out of their hands and sit down and do something beyond kicking it down the road a few months.

To Mr. Boehner, Tea Party die hards and champions of the filibuster: the election is over. There will be no recall. Get your butts together and work.

To our president: the election is over, you won. Enough with the victory laps. They treated you bad the last time, which is not enough reason to rub it in.

Most people don’t even know what sequester means, but you all do. Do something about it, like, yesterday. Show that you’re a leader who can get things done, even when you’re dealing with demons, both yours and theirs. ★

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Wed, 27 Aug 2014 08:50:34 -0400

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