- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 18, 2010

Congress is now in session. The American people will be watching intently the direction Congress will pursue concerning the George W. Bush tax cuts. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) also will be watching and listening. It couldn’t care less about any extension of tax cuts for the American people.

OPEC, a 12-country cartel that includes Iran, Iraq, Libya, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, is concerned solely with the new “energy independence” legislation before Congress. Those countries want to know if the U.S. Congress will continue to keep the status quo with OPEC and continue spending billions of dollars on foreign countries whose intention is to keep America under their thumb or do what is right by the American people and begin to take steps toward American energy independence.

The United States imports nearly 65 percent of our oil from foreign countries, 38 percent of which comes from OPEC. We spend $365 billion on oil annually. That accounts for almost two-thirds of our trade deficit. It is difficult to imagine a near 10 percent unemployment rate in America while OPEC countries are fully employed. It also is difficult to conceive of a conversation about cutting taxes and government spending without cutting OPEC from our foreign spending as well.

DOUG MCCLAUGHERTY

Sarasota, Fla.