Republicans Offer Oil and Gas Drilling to Pay for Infrastructure Spending

COMMENTARY | House Republicans are offering President Obama and the Democrats a deal that they ought not to refuse, but likely will. They propose to pay for infrastructure spending with oil and gas lease sales at places like ANWR.

The Republicans are sweetening the deal by giving coastal states a 37.5 percent share of the revenue for offshore leases. This would provide much needed money for some cash-strapped states struggling to balance their budgets. In particular, California would be faced with a choice of adhering to its environmentalist ban on offshore drilling or else allowing it and enjoying the cash flow that could be used to balance its books.

The Democrats have demanded that infrastructure spending be paid for by their solution to everything – tax increases on the rich.

It is unlikely that any grand bargain will take place that swaps infrastructure spending for increased oil and gas drilling before the next president is sworn into office. While the deal would be a win-win for everyone – more roads and bridges, more domestic oil and more jobs, and increased economic growth – the idea runs smack into a dogma of the Democratic Party.

That dogma can be expressed thus: Private commerce is suspect at best, evil at worse. In any case, private commerce has to be heavily regulated and supervised by the government to make certain that the evils of capitalism are kept in check.

That rule applies very heavily to the oil and gas industry. Hydrocarbon fuels are considered dirty, evil, and the cause of all sorts of social ills. Despite the fact that the American economy absolutely depends on ready access to oil, natural gas, and coal, the Democrats are dedicated to the proposition that the production of these resources should be curtailed as much as possible.

This attitude has greatly contributed to the economic malaise that the United States is now experiencing. If one disdains economic activity and wants to curtail it, one should not be surprised if there is less of it, with all of the attending consequences.

The way out of the economic stagnation America finds itself in is to begin to encourage economic activity. That starts with increased oil and gas drilling.

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