Nuggets amidst the muck

Forbes - - Fact & Comment // Steve Forbes -

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-

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