Bush An Enthusiastic Consumer Of Fuel
More on Republican fears about the next election:
"You can safely predict, with more accuracy than any TV weatherman, that the first blizzard of the year will be the blizzard of gas price legislation introduced this September when Congress comes back to town," said Stuart Roy, a former House GOP leadership aide.A split government -- heck, even a split house -- would be a step in the right direction.
But it is unclear what lawmakers can do to reduce gas prices in the short term — and whether voters will accept the argument that they have few tools to provide immediate relief.
"We should be nervous," said Kingston, vice chairman of the House Republican Conference.
Polls show that the public blames politicians — after oil companies and foreign oilproducing countries — for the high prices. A Harris Poll released Wednesday found that Americans ranked gas prices among the top five issues for the government to address. Compounding the problem for the GOP, Democrats are spotlighting fuel costs in their campaign to wrest control of Congress.
Republican candidates facing tough races in 2006 should be worried, said Tony Fabrizio, a Republican political consultant.
"If I were a guy in a marginal race, I would be all over the oil companies," he said. "I'd be getting ahead of the curve right now, hauling them before my committee, holding hearings throughout my state — maybe introducing legislation to cap their CEO salaries."
Rep. Christopher Shays (news, bio, voting record) (R-Conn.) predicted: "When [voters] start to see that this is not the end but the beginning [of high prices], they are going to be kind of harsh."