Nuggets amidst the muck
House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republican congressional leaders are being pilloried by GOP activists for pushing through a $1.15 trillion spending bill laden with pork and a bewildering array of tax credits (including one for plug-in motorcycles). This junks up an already mindnumbingly complex tax code even more. “This is what we get from a Republican- controlled Congress?” they angrily ask.
Alas, with Barack Obama still in the White House, a divided GOP in the House (which gave Democrats bargaining leverage, since their votes were needed for passage) and the specter of a government shutdown if no bill was passed (a fght the GOP wouldn’t win in the court of public opinion, given the fact that Congress is far more unpopular than the President), an ugly piece of legislation was unavoidable.
However, there are three gems in this legislative garbage dump.
One has been widely covered: Removing the fourdecades-old ban on oil exports, a relic from an era when it was thought we were running out of the stuf because the price was going up so much. The rapid rise in petroleum prices wasn’t a result of the Arab oil embargo—imposed because we supported Israel during the Yom Kippur War—or of a looming oil shortage. It was a result of the weak dollar. We saw the same phenomenon in the early 2000s, when a weak greenback sent the price of oil from around $25 a barrel to over $100. Repealing this prohibition will help our belea-