On Sunday’s Face the Nation, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman denounced the proposed White House plan to use the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to curb rising gas prices: “That would rank in my top five worst ideas of 2011 so far….one thing we should finally be doing is using this opportunity to have a credible energy policy that begins to reduce our addiction to oil.”
Friedman’s idea of “credible energy policy” was to force Americans to continue to pay higher gas prices: “Gasoline is almost $4 a gallon. We know that’s a red line where people really start to change their behavior. At a minimum, I’d be talking about a tax that basically says we’re going to keep it at $4. If it goes below we’ll true it up, if it goes above that we’re not going to touch it.”
As TimesWatch’s Clay Waters earlier reported, for years Friedman has been obsessed with the idea of implementing higher gas taxes. In his most recent call for such a tax in a February 23 column entitled “If Not Now, When?,” Friedman proposed: “The smart thing for us to do right now is to impose a $1-a-gallon gasoline tax, to be phased in at 5 cents a month beginning in 2012, with all the money going to pay down the deficit.”
And of course back in late 2008, when gas prices were at the lowest in recent years, the Times, the WaPo and NBC’s Tom Brokaw all came out in favor of using taxes to artificially inflate gas prices, as a way to inflict further misery upon their average reader or viewer.
Meanwhile, in addition to calling for higher gas prices, the Times is also onboard with shutting down the federal government, lest Obama face the indignity of suffering with the GOP’s draconian cuts rounding error reductions in spending. Or as Ed Morrissey writes:
What would happen if those cuts took place? The Times predicts an apocalypse, of course:
Republicans claim they will not agree on a penny less than $61 billion, which is too little for some more aggressive freshmen. If the Democrats try to compromise on even half that amount, they will be still be doing enormous damage to many programs and threatening a recovery that is starting to show signs of real life.
At least the Times implicitly admits that Barack Obama lied when he claimed to have met Republicans halfway on budget cuts. But again, the numbers just don’t hold up. The Republican cuts amount to 7.8% of Obama’s Porkulus spending, which turned out to have little effect on the economy or on job creation. Reducing spending by less than one-twelfth of a Porkulus would have even less negative impact on the economy. Nor does this editorial ever explain what it means by “enormous damage to many programs”. The editors never mention a single program or the damage less spending will do to it.
The editors then make the argument that conservatives have been making:
There is nothing wrong with having a serious negotiation over long-term cuts, many of which are reasonable and necessary. It is vitally important, in fact, that the two sides begin examining ways to curb the huge growth in entitlement spending, particularly Medicare. House Speaker John Boehner said last week that he was ready to start that conversation, echoing similar calls from President Obama and many others in Washington.
But serious cuts cannot be made against the threat of a shutdown. That discussion should be had over the 2012 budget, not what’s left of the 2011 fiscal year.
Entitlement reforms have to be made through statutory changes, not budget bills, so this is essentially meaningless anyway. We have to wait for FY2012 for that reason, because Congress has to rewrite law to enact those reforms. So because we need to wait on entitlement programs for the 2012 budget, the entire discretionary spending portion of a budget with a $1.6 trillion deficit should be ignored?
And have Democrats in Wisconsin heard that serious budget debate shouldn’t take place “against the threat of a shutdown”?
Or to put it another way, as someone once said, if it wasn’t for double standards, the left would have no standards at all.
Incidentally, if you’d like to write your own Tom Friedman article, at Ricochet, Claire Berlinski breaks down the secret formula to decode the mustache of understanding.