- - Monday, April 3, 2023

On Thursday, March 30, the Republican-led House of Representatives passed an energy package dubbed the “Lower Energy Costs Act.” It had been given the label HR 1, an indication the GOP majority considered the bill its top priority. 

The Lower Energy Costs Act encompasses more than two years of work and would dramatically increase domestic production of oil, natural gas and coal. Most analysts think that if implemented, it would lower oil and gas prices on the world market. It would also provide stability in Europe, where most countries had become too dependent on Russia for their oil and natural gas. The legislation even boosts the production of critical minerals such as lithium, nickel and cobalt, which are used in electric vehicles, computers, cell phones and other products. Good news all around.

Politically the passage of HR 1 should have been pure gold. At a time when every American is being hammered at the gas pump and when OPEC has just announced a production cut, indicating prices at the pump will go even higher in the weeks to come, the Lower Energy Costs Act should have been the leading story on all news on Friday, demonstrating the difference between Republicans and Democrats on energy, the economy and world affairs. 

Republicans are literally showcasing a specific plan to bring down costs. In the Democrat-led Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called the legislation “dead on arrival.” President Biden threatened to veto the bill, calling it a “thinly veiled license to pollute.”

Ironically the Democrats, who have committed hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to “new” energy sources the marketplace won’t support, called the bill a giveaway to big oil companies. The problem with the Dems’ claim is that taxpayers are funding their windmill and solar follies while the new GOP-created legislation would simply give companies an opportunity, not a handout. 

The stark differences between the two parties would likely appeal to many independent voters who are paying higher prices for virtually everything, due in part at least, to the outrageous fuel costs it takes to deliver food and goods nationwide. The Friday headlines should have been a big boost in GOP efforts to convince the American public they are taking action that will help everyone. 

Instead, Friday’s headlines read as follows: Trump Faces 34 Counts. Other variations were similar: Grand Jury Indicts Trump

All Trump, all the time, was back. Every cable news channel, every online and print newspaper, and every talk radio show, along with social media, were all blasting stories, comments and thoughts about the impending booking, fingerprinting and mugshot of Donald Trump

The Republican effort on energy and its impacts on the economy and world stage gained barely a mention. Poof. Two years of work and a bi-partisan vote were wiped out by Donald Trump’s never-ending circus.

That, of course, is what the Democrats want. They can’t beat the Republicans on the issues. Inflation, gas prices, food prices, government giveaways, and government grabs for more control of your daily life are all losers for them. All are ignored, however, when Donald J. Trump finds his way to the front and center. 

Mr. Trump’s indictment marks only the beginning. This entire week will be filled with his image, his mugshot, his comments, his critics and his loud, rude self. The trial will take months to come to fruition, perhaps taking place in the midst of Presidential Primary season early next year, so the news outlets can continue to focus on Trump, porn stars and hush money rather than issues that actually affect Mom and Pop. 

Some in Republican leadership can’t help themselves and fall right into the trap. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Thursday that Congress will take some action to punish Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. “The American people will not tolerate this injustice, and the House of Representatives will hold Alvin Bragg and his unprecedented abuse of power to account.” He’s not talking about energy. He’s talking about Trump and a porn star. 

Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) is Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. He said subjecting Mr. Bragg to a subpoena and forcing him to appear before his committee to discuss the Trump case is “still on the table.” Good lord. Is that what Americans want to see Congress doing? The Federal Government spending its time and effort investigating a local New York DA who is investigating a former President’s payoff to a porn star? 

The Lower Energy Costs Act won’t see the light of day because Donald Trump is smothering anything positive the GOP is trying to do with his inflated ego and outrageous claims of being a victim. Republicans hoped to win over the voting public with a robust agenda, including a Parents Bill of Rights, hiring 200,000 new police officers to combat skyrocketing crime, overhauling social security and securing the southern border. 

All of these issues poll well with the public. All will be lost in the shuffle, however because Donald Trump is sucking all the air out of the room. The GOP is suffocating, gasping for any attention that isn’t labeled Trump. Instead, the bombastic ex-President, hell-bent on running for President a third time, is taking his whole party down with him. Too ignorant to see the damage he is doing or too arrogant to care, Mr. Trump can’t help himself. If the spotlight is on, he believes he must be in it, regardless of how pathetic or embarrassing of a thing the light may expose. 

His rabid followers make up about 20% of the Republican Party. Some are claiming this indictment will actually help his chances of returning to the White House. They say his poll numbers have bumped, and millions in campaign cash have come floating in off of his faux mugshot fundraising effort. The truth is his indictment not only won’t carry him back to Washington, but it is also killing his entire party. Democrats already hate him. Independents are not going to be suddenly swayed to think Trump has become more diplomatic and merely a victim in the rough and tumble of politics. Credible polls show a majority of Republicans don’t want him to be their nominee in 2024. 

Democrats are rejoicing that the evil orange man has been fingerprinted and will be humiliated in court. They believe this will keep him from winning. The news media is having a field day. Cable television news and online news’ biggest numbers were mined during the Trump era, so they are all quite happy to flood us with Trump, Trump and more Trump.

He can’t win. He won’t win. What he apparently will do is smother the Republican agenda and, in the process, decimate his party’s chances in 2024. Turn away now. You won’t be able to unsee what is coming. 

  • Tim Constantine is a columnist with The Washington Times. 

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